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With Iverson in limbo, Sixers drop 7th straight

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Maurice Cheeks liked what he saw. With a
break or two, his 76ers might have even got a victory without Allen Iverson.

Philadelphia played for the second straight night without its
disgruntled star Saturday, losing 86-84 to the Orlando Magic in a
game that could serve as a confidence booster for the sagging
76ers, who've lost seven straight.

Chris Webber turned in one of his better performances of the
season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Equally important, he got
his teammates involved in the offense with a team-high eight
assists.

"We played winning basketball," Cheeks said. "It's
unfortunate we lost that game."

Dwight Howard scored 28 points and Grant Hill added 23 for
Southeast Division leader Orlando, which stopped a two-game skid
and improved to 7-1 in games decided by three or fewer points.

The Magic lost at home to Philadelphia, with Iverson scoring 39
and making a game-winning shot on Nov. 3. Coach Brian Hill wasn't
surprised by the effort that nearly enabled the 76ers to leave
Amway Arena with another victory.

"The're a team that has something to prove. They want to prove
they can win without the guy, and they enjoy playing without him,"
Hill said.

Iverson was sent home before Friday night's home loss against
Washington and told he would not make the trip to Orlando, either.

Sixers president Ed Snider said the seven-time All-Star, who has
clashed with coaches throughout his 11-year career, will be traded.
How long it will take to move Iverson is anybody's guess.

Without him, Webber has been more productive. He had 21 points,
10 rebounds and five assists in the loss to the Wizards and had a
chance to give the 76ers the lead Saturday night when he drove the
lane and attempted a difficult shot with 10.4 seconds left.

Webber thought he was fouled, but there was no call.

"That's just the way things have been going," Webber said.

"You stick to a lot of cliches right now because cliches are
really true, you just really hear them a lot. This is when your
character is tested, when you go through certain situations. We've
just got to keep fighting and sticking together, and we'll make our
breaks."

Howard's rebound and short bank shot gave Orlando an 85-81 lead
with 52.9 seconds remaining. Kyle Korver cut Philadelphia's deficit
to one with a three-point play, however the 76ers wasted two
opportunities to tie or take the lead down the stretch.

In addition to Webber's air ball, Kevin Ollie's desperation
jumper at the buzzer was partially blocked by Orlando's Jameer
Nelson.

Nevertheless, the 76ers felt they made some progress.

"Allen's a great basketball player. I love playing with him,
but when he is not in the game things have to change because you
don't have a guy who can come in and score 30 points," Korver
said. "We are going to go through Chris more and get the ball into
the low post and at the elbow. I thought we did a good job of that
in parts of tonight's game."

Cheeks reiterated before the game that he and Iverson's
teammates are focused on trying to do whatever's needed to stop the
club's slide -- not the unhappy franchise player's future.

The 76ers led by 20 points in the second quarter against
Washington on Friday night, only to fall apart after halftime and
lost 113-98. They trailed Orlando 53-50 at the half and 71-70 after
three quarters.

Webber and Andre Iguodala, who finished with 19 points, kept
Philadelphia close against Orlando, but couldn't get their team
over the hump.

Steven Hunter missed two free throws that would have given the
76ers their first lead since 11-10. On two other occasions, shot
clock violations hampered the bid to stop the losing streak.

Game Notes
Hall of Famer and former 76ers star Julius Erving watched
the game from a courtside seat near the Philadelphia bench. ... The
Magic wore black pinstripe uniforms and honored former Orlando
player and broadcaster Jeff Turner as part of the team's
"Commitment to the Past" program. He was a member of the
franchise's inaugural team in 1989-90 and played seven seasons in
Orlando.