Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grant Is Key Ingredient in the Magic Formula

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grant Is Key Ingredient in the Magic Formula

Article excerpt

This was exactly the reason the Orlando Magic lured Horace Grant out of Chicago with a multimillion-dollar contract.

The team had talented but inexperienced superstars such as Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee Hardaway and Nick Anderson. Grant, the veteran with three world championship rings, was brought in to show them how to win a title.

So far, Grant is earning every penny of the five-year, $17 million contract. With the exception of Grant, Brian Shaw and ancient reserve player/coach Wayne "Tree" Rollins, none of the Magic had ever played in a Game 5.

Tuesday night at Orlando Arena, Grant showed them how to win one.

Going against his former teammates, Grant scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds as Orlando rallied from a 12-point, second-quarter deficit, raced by Chicago in the third and posted an important victory, 103-95.

Winning the always critical Game 5, the Magic took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. In just its second playoff appearance, Orlando can earn a trip to the Eastern Conference finals by beating the Bulls tonight at the United Center.

Since 1977, 34 National Basketball Association playoff series, excluding the finals, have been tied 2-2 going into Game 5. The team that won Game 5 has won 30 of those matchups.

"Winning this game gives us a lot of confidence going into the United Center," Grant said. "When I was with the Bulls, if we got a team down 3-2, we went in for the kill. That's the instinct we have to take into Chicago."

With Orlando down by seven at the half, Grant paced a dramatic, third-quarter swing by getting 10 points and six rebounds. The Magic outscored the Bulls 35-20, and took a 78-70 lead into the fourth quarter.

Chicago pulled to 89-83 with just under five minutes left, but Grant took a pass from Anderson and threw down a dunk to start the Magic on a 12-6 run that put the game out of reach.

"In the first half, we didn't play aggressive," Grant said. "We talked about it at halftime. We came out and forced some turnovers. We hit some big shots and started rebounding."

After shooting just 31.3 percent in the first half, Orlando sizzled with 61.1 percent shooting (22 for 36) in the second. …

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