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Magic dissects recent collapses

None of the Orlando Magic players liked reliving their recent late-game collapses, but that's how they spent Monday's practice.

The Magic had a nine-point lead in the third quarter at Denver on Friday, only to lose 98-89. Then on Sunday, it led San Antonio by 16 in the third and lost 111-103.

"Things like that happen during the course of a long season; you're going to have slippage," coach Brian Hill said. "Both teams really stepped up their defensive pressure and their rebounding and our half-court execution was as poor as it had been in a long time."

Hill said he and his staff addressed setting better screens to improve the half-court offense, rebounding more aggressively and playing smarter when opponents are making a run.

Art imitating life: College basketball coaches, consumed by winning, don't really fork over luxury cars or satchels of cash to highly touted recruits as occurs in the movie Blue Chips, do they?

Well, Shaquille O'Neal and Anfernee Hardaway, who star in that movie, believe they do.

"I was never offered money or cars," said O'Neal said. "I guess they were afraid of the Sarge (his father, Sgt. Philip Harrison). I would have turned it down if they did. But when you get ready to play guys and there's (Mercedes) Benzes and BMWs, all you can do is assume."

Hardaway, the Magic's rookie guard, said no one offered him anything to attend Memphis State. But unlike his movie counterpart, neither he nor his family asked.

"But I think it's very real," he said. "It happens everyday."

Manning southbound?: Power forward Danny Manning, sought by Orlando before he was dealt to Atlanta for Dominique Wilkins, said he doesn't feel comfortable discussing what might happen after this season. He could become an unrestricted free agent and the Magic would love to have him.

"Right now, I'm in a Hawks' jersey and I'm going to help the Hawks win as many games as possible," he said. "I don't want to put myself on any type of emotional roller coaster or be setting myself up to have worries and letdowns for the rest of the season."

But what will he look for at the end of the year?

"My family has to be comfortable in the area and I have to feel comfortable in the city," he said. "I want to play for a team that competes for a championship the rest of my career. That's something I'll look at strongly."

Atlanta may have the inside track to sign him to a long-term deal, especially if the Hawks reach the NBA final, but Manning's criteria describes what he likes about Orlando _ a team with a "young nucleus that's going to be outstanding for a very long time" in a "wonderful city."

Fine attitude: Backup guard Anthony Bowie seems too mild-mannered to get into a brawl. Still, he was fined $5,000 recently for fighting with Indiana guard Reggie Miller. "It wasn't my first fight, but it'll be the last," he said.

Magic act: When Orlando comes into a town, fans come out as they haven't before. Consider: The lowly Dallas Mavericks were averaging 12,549, but drew 17,502 for their game against the Magic last Thursday. That was a 39 percent increase. San Antonio was averaging 21,526, but drew 34,325 for Sunday's game against the Magic, the third-highest in Spurs' history. That was a 59 percent increase.

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