ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Orlando Magic are trying not to think
too much about the postseason, even though they are suddenly
playing like a playoff team.
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 postseason hopes alive and
further damaging the 76ers'.
"They stuck with us the whole game," Howard said. "To me it
felt like a little playoff game. It kept going back and forth."
Philadelphia has lost two in a row, falling 1½ games behind idle
Chicago with two to play. The win was the Magic's eighth in a row
overall and 12th straight at home, and leaves them 2½ 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.
Both teams need help from Chicago. Besides their game at
Orlando, the Bulls play Sunday at Miami and host Toronto on
"It's unfortunate that we have to rely on other teams to try
and give us some help," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "But
stranger things have happened in the NBA where people get a chance
to get in."
Magic coach Brian Hill said he didn't plan to watch the
Bulls-Heat game Sunday.
"I can't control it, so there's no sense in watching it," he
said. "I'm going to go to church with my family and I'm going to
have a (good) Easter dinner with my family. If I happen to see a
little basketball somewhere in between, so be it."
Neither team led by more than three points until the end of a
tight fourth quarter, which the Magic didn't sew up until the final
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 -- which
marked an NBA season high in rebounds and his second 20-point,
20-rebound game this season. He fell two short of Shaquille
O'Neal's franchise-record 28 set in 1993.
After hitting his first four from the line, Howard made just six
of his next 15. Appropriately, the 76ers took a page from their
O'Neal-era playbook on the Magic, fouling the young big man
virtually every time he went to the rim.
He redeemed himself after making the front end of two foul shots
with 2:59 left, then getting his own rebound for an 8-foot hook.
"That was the biggest play of the game," Iverson said. "He
gave them a three-point play."
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 Steven Hunter and two straight buckets by Willie Green -- the
second a 3-pointer -- to pull within three points.
Kyle 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.
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. ... Cheeks
remained on 199 career wins over his five NBA seasons. ... The
Magic won three of four games against Philadelphia this season.