Magic End Road Skid Against 76ers
Orlando 102, Philadelphia 86
PHILADELPHIA, March 24 (Ticker) -- All things considered, the Orlando Magic would rather be in Philadelphia.
The Magic ended a 16-game road losing streak at the site of their last road win, riding big games from Dwight Howard and their bench to a 102-86 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Orlando's last road win was a 119-115 victory here on January 26. This one was a lot easier as the Magic shot 56 percent (40-of-71) from the field and showed way more energy than the Sixers, who are in a playoff race.
"Just kidding, but I think we need to ask the league if we can switch all of our away games to here," Howard said. "It feels good. I'm happy that we finally got a win. We started a little slow, but we kept playing and that's what we needed."
Philadelphia played hard at the outset of both halves but otherwise looked lethargic as it lost for the eighth time in 10 games. The 76ers (32-36) saw their lead over Chicago reduced to 2 1/2 games in the race for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot.
"The confidence the team's that aren't good have against us is kind of embarrassing," Sixers forward Chris Webber said. "I've been on teams where you've already intimidated them based on what you've done. It's that level of respect. I just felt tonight that Orlando really didn't respect us. They felt that they could do anything to us, and they did."
Howard dominated the defensive backboard with his rebounding and shot-blocking. A handful of his blocks came on Sixers superstar Allen Iverson, who repeatedly had his drives turned away, settled for jumpers and was held to 17 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
"I knew that I had to come out and get a presence," Howard said. "I was trying to block shots, trying to rebound, and make A.I. and the other guys take bad shots. It started in the first quarter. You get a couple of blocks, and guys start looking for you. It happened throughout the whole game."
"We needed this one and we didn't get it done," Iverson said. "I struggled on both ends of the court. I just couldn't get in a rhythm out there. I couldn't get anything going. When I struggle the way I did tonight, as a team we're going to obviously struggle."
Carlos Arroyo scored 16 points, Keyon Dooling added 12 and Trevor Ariza and Darko Milicic 11 apiece for the Magic. All four provided a spark off the bench in both the second and fourth quarters and Ariza swept 11 boards, helping the Magic to 47-33 advantage on the glass.
"I can't say enough good things about our bench," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I thought they did a great job tonight. Early in the game, we didn't have great energy. Guys like Keyon and Trevor came in and picked up the defensive intensity. We were able to get some turnovers, get out and run, and get some easy baskets. It was the same thing in the second half."
"Their bench is one of the reasons they won the game," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Those are the guys that came in and hurt us the most. That's the disappointing part that they came in and outworked us."
Philadelphia native Jameer Nelson scored 19 points for Orlando (26-43), which led by as many as 20 points in the final period and won for the sixth time in nine games. The Magic surrendered 33 points off 21 turnovers and still won easily.
The Sixers raced to an 11-1 lead in the first 3 1/2 minutes, then took most of the first half off. The Magic stormed back to take a 25-19 lead after one period and used a 15-0 run - fueled by six points from Arroyo - to open a 46-32 advantage.
"After we were down early, coach told us that if we didn't start to play hard, he was going to sit all of us down," Howard said. "So I was going to go out and play hard. That motivated us to play."
Trailing, 50-41, at halftime, Philadelphia fought back for a 53-53 tie on a 3-pointer by Kyle Korver, who scored 18 points. Howard answered with two straight baskets to trigger a 12-3 run that rebuilt the lead.
Orlando held a 73-62 advantage entering the fourth quarter, when Iverson did not score and Philadelphia got no closer.
"They got whatever they wanted on the court," Iverson said. "They took the ball to the basket and they just played a better game than us. They outplayed us at both sides of the ball. We just got beat up all over the court."
Webber had 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Sixers, who shot just 38 percent (31-of-81).