Magic doesn't vanish in easy win over Bullets

January 26, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

ORLANDO, FLA — ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the Orlando Magic, it was an important game, if not expected to be a particularly difficult one.

As much as everyone here has talked about the team's best start in franchise history, the Magic had lacked consistency -- failing to string together a winning streak of more than three games.

So, with a three-game winning streak going into last night's game against the Washington Bullets, the Magic was looking to make a statement. And after seemingly toying with the Bullets for 2 1/2 quarters, Orlando broke away at the end of the third quarter on its way to a 112-89 win before a sellout crowd at the Orlando Arena.

What was supposed to be a brief tropical getaway ended in less than paradise for the Bullets, who lost in Miami and Orlando to fall to 13-26, last in the Atlantic Division.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, Nick Anderson had 21 and Anfernee Hardaway 16 for the Magic.

Tom Gugliotta scored 25 points, and Don MacLean had 14 for the Bullets, who, after winning their first meeting with Orlando in November, have lost two straight to the Magic.

O'Neal was a mere spectator in the Magic's offense in the early going, but Orlando still got out to a 11-5 lead after a layup by Scott Skiles. The Bullets didn't get their first field goal until

Michael Adams hit a jumper with 7:58 left. That started Washington on a 10-5 run that, following a layup by Gugliotta with 5:36 left, had the Bullets tied at 14.

O'Neal, who went into the game averaging 34.8 points over his previous five outings, hit two free throws to start a 10-0 run that gave the Magic a 24-14 lead. By the end of the quarter the Bullets, who shot just 26.1 percent (six of 23 from the field), trailed 28-18.

Washington was able to hang tough, scoring the first four points of the second quarter to pull to within 28-22 after a layup by Doug Overton. But the presence of O'Neal was beginning to hurt the Bullets.

Kevin Duckworth picked up his second personal against O'Neal early in the second quarter, and was forced to the bench. Pervis Ellison replaced Duckworth, but O'Neal simply used his nearly 80-pound weightadvantage.

That forced Unseld to go with 7-foot-7 inch Gheorghe Muresan, who, although scoring four first-half points -- including a nifty reverse layup -- picked up three fouls in four minutes of play.

VTC After Muresan's layup, O'Neal hit a free throw and Hardaway then scored six straight points, the last two coming on free throws with 3:33 left that gave the Magic its biggest lead of the half, 48-34.

The Bullets were able to get as close as eight after a dunk by Gugliotta with 26.0 seconds left made it 54-46. The Magic, who got 15 first-half points by O'Neal, 12 from Hardaway and 10 by Anderson, had a 56-46 halftime lead.

Washington began to do a better job defensively at the start of the third quarter, and opened the period with an 18-9 run that, following a jumper by MacLean with 6:07 left, had Washington within 65-64. MacLean, who scored eight points in the first half as he was defended well by Hardaway, would score eight in the third quarter alone.

But by the end of the third quarter the Bullets' collapse was beginning. Within 69-67 after Gugliotta hit one of two free throws with 4:31 left, Washington had a chance to tie on its next possession but Adams missed as he rushed an off-balance jump shot in the lane.

The Magic was quick to respond on the other end, with Anderson scoring on a fast-break dunk. Hardaway had a slam on Orlando's next trip, and the Magic was in the midst of an 8-0 run that, after a layup by Anthony Avent, increased the lead to 77-67. By quarter's end Orlando had an 84-71 lead.

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