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Howard carries Magic past lowly 76ers

Dec 10, 2006 - 3:07 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Dwight Howard kept the Philadelphia 76ers on their downward spiral.

Howard collected 28 points and 12 rebounds and Grant Hill scored 23 points as the Orlando Magic held on for an 86-84 victory over the struggling 76ers, who dropped their seventh straight game.

With superstar Allen Iverson sitting out for a second consecutive game since asking for a trade, the Sixers appear to have no direction. Philadelphia has lost 14 of 16 games since a 3-0 start.

"Allen is player that can take the ball to the rim and score the basketball," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Now we have a variety of guys we're trying to trust to put the ball in their hands. We need guys to grow and that's exactly what they are doing."

"Allen is a great basketball player," 76ers swingman Kyle Korver said. "I loved playing with him, but when he is not in the game things have to change, because you don't have a guy that can come in and score 30 points."

In the fourth quarter, Andre Iguodala split a pair of free throws to bring the Sixers within 82-81 at the 1:43 mark.

Howard's follow shot pushed Orlando's advantage to 85-81 with 52 seconds remaining. The top overall selection in the 2004 draft made 12-of-17 shots.

"My confidence in my post game is getting better every day," said Howard, who turned 21 earlier this week. "I'm going to just keep working on it. We executed down the stretch and stopped them when we needed to."

Korver converted a three-point play five seconds later to make it a one-point game. After Keyon Dooling made just 1-of-2 foul shots, the Sixers had a chance to send the game into overtime. But Philadelphia native Jameer Nelson got a piece of Kevin Ollie's pull-up jumper as time expired.

"With five seconds left, you never know what is going through a guy's head, so you have to guard him as if he's going to take the last shot," said Nelson, who had eight points and seven assists. "So I guarded him like we were playing 1-on-1. I just wanted to get my hand up and contest the shot but I blocked it."

"We got some big defensive stops down the stretch," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I thought it was a heck of an effort from our guys down the stretch to be able to pull it out."

Trevor Ariza scored 13 points off the bench for Orlando, which shot 44 percent (37-of-83) from the field.

Orlando forward Hedo Turkoglu will be out for 10 to 14 days with a sprained right ankle suffered in Friday's home defeat. He was replaced in the lineup by Keith Bogans, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter and did not return.

Chris Webber had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Iguodala also scored 19 points for the 76ers, who shot 52 percent (34-of-65).

"Everybody has their own style," Webber said. "I just wanted to get our players involved. It kind of makes the basket bigger when you getting easy layups. It is a fun style of play."

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