Magic 102, 76ers 97


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Dwight Howard scored a season-high 28 points and grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds to lift Orlando over Philadelphia 102-97 Saturday night, keeping the Magic’s playoff hopes alive and further damaging the 76ers’.

Allen Iverson had 36 points and five assists, while Chris Webber added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers.

Philadelphia has lost two in a row, falling 1 games behind idle Chicago with two left to play. The win was the Magic’s eighth in a row overall and 12th straight at home, and leaves them 2 games behind the Bulls. The Magic have two games left and the Bulls have three.

The Magic host Chicago on Monday night and finish the regular season at Indiana on Wednesday. Philadelphia plays at home against New Jersey on Tuesday and finishes at Charlotte on Wednesday.

Neither team led by more than three points in a tight fourth quarter, which the Magic didn’t sew up until the game’s final minute.

Trailing by three, Webber drove the lane and missed inside, and Hedo Turkoglu nailed two free throws to cement the victory.

Jameer Nelson had 21 points and eight assists for Orlando, while Turkoglu added 23 points.

Howard fell two points shy of the fourth 30-point, 20-rebound game in the NBA this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Marcus Camby, Elton Brand and Shawn Marion had them.

Poor free throw shooting almost ruined Howard’s big game. After hitting his first four, the second-year standout made just six of his next 15 from the line. The 76ers took a page from their Shaquille O’Neal-era playbook on the Magic, fouling the young big man virtually every time he went to the rim.

Trailing by five points or less most of the third quarter, the 76ers tied the game at 71 on Iverson’s 3-pointer with 5:02 left. Iverson scored 15 of Philadelphia’s 24 points in the third quarter, but the teams traded buckets until Orlando closed out with an 83-80 lead to open the fourth.

Orlando grabbed a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter with a 13-2 run fueled by Nelson’s three jumpers. Before that, Howard scored 10 straight points for the Magic, including two dunks and four free throws. The second-year forward didn’t score the rest of the first half, missing four straight free throws but pulling down 14 rebounds.

Philadelphia charged back in the second quarter, using two dunks from Hunter and two straight buckets by Willie Green – the second a 3-pointer – to pull within three points.

Korver hit a 20-foot jumper just before the halftime buzzer to cap a 10-4 run and draw Philadelphia to 58-56 at the break.

Notes: Magic G Carlos Arroyo missed his fourth straight game with a strained left hamstring. … Philadelphia shot 16-of-20 from the free throw line, while Orlando made just 21 of 34. … 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks remained on 199 career wins over his five NBA seasons. … The Magic won three of four games against Philadelphia this season.