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Sixers stay hot in February, end struggles vs. Magic

Feb 28, 2008 - 5:16 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers finally solved the riddle of beating the Orlando Magic in February.

Andre Miller and Willie Green scored 26 points apiece for the Sixers en route to a 101-89 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

Philadelphia, which had lost twice to Orlando this month, turned to its resurgent defense to get the job done, avenging its last loss at the Wachovia Center to the Magic on February 1 and extending its home winning streak to seven games.

"This was a confidence boost for us," Green said. "Orlando had beaten us twice already, and we know that we have to play them one more time, but this is a big win for us as we go on a road trip beginning with Golden State (on Friday)."

The Sixers, 8-2 in their last 10 games, have allowed their opponents to an average of just 91.2 points over that stretch, holding six of those foes to less than 90. The Sixers also snapped a four-game - home and overall - skid to the Magic.

Taking a 33-25 lead after one quarter, the Sixers held the Magic without a field goal for over 9 1/2 minutes in the second quarter. After each team exchanged baskets to open the period, Keyon Dooling hit a jumper at the 10:25 mark to trim Philadelphia's lead to 35-29.

"Our defense allowed us to get some easy baskets early," Miller said. "The rim kind of got bigger. The defense was there and that made the offense go." From that point on, Orlando missed its next 10 shots until Hedo Turkoglu converted a layup with 48 seconds left before intermission. The Magic, who were outscored 26-8 during the drought, managed to go 8-of-10 from the foul line during that stretch to avoid further embarrassment.

"The main thing was to pressure them on the pick-and-roll and force other guys to make plays," Miller said. "That kind of slowed them up and got them out of their rhythm. It was a good team effort. Everybody did what they were supposed to do."

While Orlando struggled to shoot just 38 percent (14-for-37) in the first half, Miller's 9-of-10 effort before the break ignited a 57 percent (24-for-42) shooting effort for Philadelphia in the first 24 minutes.

"I got it going early and everybody fed off that," Miller said. "I think that I'm a pretty good shooter from 15 to 20 feet. I just wanted to shoot the ball."

"Andre Miller controlled the entire game," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "If you make a mistake defensively, he gets the ball to the guy that you made the mistake on and you pay for it."

Philadelphia held a 61-42 lead at halftime.

While the Magic were able to chip away at the deficit throughout the second half, they could get no closer than nine points.

"You have to be mentally focused, and we weren't," Van Gundy said. "We had numerous breakdowns on game plan mistakes and not playing the way we wanted to."

J.J. Redick, seeing his most significant minutes since December 15, led a late charge - scoring eight of his points in the fourth quarter. His driving layup with four minutes remaining cut the deficit to 92-82, but Green answered with five consecutive points to end the threat.

"Just to get over that hump and actually win a game against a top team in the East is big for us," Green said. "It's important to win as many games as we can."

Andre Iguodala added 24 points and eight rebounds for the Sixers.

Dwight Howard recorded his 51st double-double of the season with 14 points and 16 rebounds and Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu each scored 19 points to lead the Magic, who failed to reach 100 points for the first time in 10 games.

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