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Francis Leads Magic Past James, Cleveland

Associated Press
Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page D09

Steve Francis had 30 points and tied a season high with 13 assists and the Magic beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-102, last night in Orlando.

"He's very explosive, he's hard to contain and he still has tremendous upside in his game," Orlando Coach Johnny Davis said of Francis.

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Francis's free throws with 30 seconds remaining broke a tie at 102, and Eric Snow missed an open three-pointer off a pass from LeBron James for Cleveland. The Cavaliers missed six of seven shots in the final 2 1/2 minutes, with Snow misfiring on three.

James finished with 28 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in his first game since rolling his left ankle last Wednesday. The Cavaliers split two games during his absence.

The Cavaliers have alternated losses and wins for the past 11 games. It's the longest streak since the Knicks did the same for 14 straight games in 1997-98.

• NETS 107, BULLS 97: Jacque Vaughn moved into the starting lineup and tied his career high with 23 points, and Jason Kidd narrowly missed the 62nd triple-double of his career for host New Jersey.

Kidd had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists, and Vince Carter had 31 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for the Nets.

Vaughn took over the spot in the starting lineup formerly occupied by Rodney Buford.

Kidd moved within eight assists of tying Bob Cousy (6,955) for 12th place on the career list. He'll attempt to surpass the Celtics legend when the Nets play at Boston tonight.

"That would be awesome if I could get it up there," Kidd, who has had run-ins with Celtics fans in the past, said. "I love Boston."

• GRIZZLIES 108, SUNS 97: Jason Williams scored 19 points and had eight assists to lift short-handed Memphis at home. Memphis had seven players score in double figures and shot 12 of 23 from three-point range.

Suns guard Steve Nash was ejected for arguing with 3 minutes 5 seconds left and the Grizzlies leading 100-92.

Nash screamed at referee Jack Nies after his shot was blocked by Stromile Swift. Nash was given a technical and then ejected after he continued his tirade.

• MAVERICKS 109, HEAT 104: Dirk Nowitzki and Jerry Stackhouse got rolling in the final five minutes, just about the time the Dallas defense found a way to throttle Shaquille O'Neal and visiting Miami.

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