Sixers take inside track to playoffs


PHILADELPHIA – Allen Iverson had 26 points and 15 assists and Kyle Korver scored 20 off the bench, helping the Philadelphia 76ers move into sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 105-97 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

Stephen Hunter, playing for the injured Chris Webber, tied a career high with 20 points, and Andre Iguodala added 19 as the Sixers won their second straight game to move a half-game ahead of Chicago for eighth place in the East.

Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 37 and Gilbert Arenas had 32 for Washington, which missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot.

The Sixers (36-41) had lost 13 of 17 before beating the Bulls in Chicago on Saturday night. They closed within one game of sixth place in the jumbled East. Philadelphia has five games remaining while the Bulls have six. Chicago holds the tiebreaker advantage.

The Wizards (39-38) hold the fifth spot in the East, but are only two games ahead of sixth-place Milwaukee with five games remaining, including two games between the teams.

Cavaliers 103, Hornets 101

OKLAHOMA CITY – LeBron James hit a jumper from the top of the key with 0.5 seconds left as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat New Orleans 103-101.

After P.J. Brown blocked James’ driving layup, Desmond Mason tied the game at 101 when he made one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left.

Mason then had the task of guarding James off an inbounds pass from Flip Murray, but couldn’t stop him from elevating just inside the 3-point line for the game-winner.

Brown caught an inbounds pass from Speedy Claxton but couldn’t get a tying shot off before the buzzer.

With Cleveland already securing the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Hornets had much more at stake but the loss dropped New Orleans 31/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, who are tied for seventh place in the West. The Hornets have five games left.

Jazz 85, Rockets 83

SALT LAKE CITY – Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and the Utah Jazz kept their slim playoff hopes alive by holding off the Houston Rockets 85-83 when Juwan Howard’s shot at the buzzer was ruled too late.

The Rockets, who lost center Yao Ming in the first quarter with a broken foot, had a chance at the end after Boozer went 1-for-2 from the free throw line with 4.3 seconds left.

Chuck Hayes, who had just missed two free throws at the other end, pulled down the rebound on the second shot and Houston called time out. Rafer Alston dribbled at the top of the key, but took a little too long to get the ball to Howard in the corner in front of the Jazz bench. Howard’s shot went in but he didn’t get the ball off in time.

After reviewing the play, referee Joe Crawford ended the game by shouting “no good” toward Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy and the Rockets.

Pacers 101, Knicks 82

INDIANAPOLIS – Stephen Jackson scored 28 points and Peja Stojakovic added 23 to help the Indiana Pacers beat the New York Knicks 101-82 and improve their chances of making the playoffs.

Austin Croshere added 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Pacers (37-40) moved into a tie for the sixth position in the Eastern Conference. Indiana stopped New York’s winning streak at three games.

Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 26 points and seven assists, but no other Knicks player scored more than 12 points. Indiana had lost eight of 10 and lost 98-73 at Detroit on Sunday, but the Pacers outrebounded the Knicks 40-31 and held them to 38 percent shooting in the second half.

Magic 105, Hawks 88

ORLANDO, Fla. – Dwight Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to help the Orlando Magic beat the Atlanta Hawks 105-88 and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Howard tied his career high with six assists as the Magic won for the ninth time in their last 10 games. Jameer Nelson added 17 points and Hedo Turkoglu had 16 for the Magic.

Orlando (33-44) is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot. The Magic have five games remaining. Al Harrington led the Hawks with 19 points.

Atlanta had six players reach double figures, but only shot 43 percent from the field. The Hawks were 2-for-13 on 3-pointers. Atlanta had trimmed a 14-point deficit to 83-78 with 6:32 left in the game before the Magic went on a 16-2 run to put the game away. Howard capped the run with a three-point play that made it 99-80 with 1:39 left in game.

Harrington had 15 points as the Hawks sprinted out to a 40-31 lead with under 7 minutes to play in the first half, but the Magic answered with a 21-7 run to take a 52-47 halftime lead.

The Magic scored the first six points of the third quarter to push the lead to 58-47, but it was their defense that carried them through the period. Atlanta shot only 29.4 percent as Orlando pushed the lead to 78-65 by the end of the quarter.

The Hawks scored nine straight points in the middle of the fourth period to cut the deficit to 83-78. Marvin Williams missed a breakaway layup on Atlanta’s next possession that could have made it a three-point game.

Orlando scored on six of its next seven possessions to put the game away.