Erratic Magic surge back in fourth to upend SixersMar 1, 2009 - 4:41 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Orlando Magic looked well on their way to another disappointing loss - another erratic performance brought on by the season-ending injury to All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson.
But with eight minutes to play, they flipped a switch, stormed back and clung to a slim lead en route to a 106-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
"It's huge; we didn't give up. We stuck with it," Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu said. "We finished big tonight after 48 minutes. We were confident. It was just a good team effort."
The Sixers held a 10-point lead with just over eight minutes on the fourth-quarter clock, as the Magic - who came in winners of just seven of their last 13 games - struggled once again to find any offensive continuity. The perimeter shooting was wild and unreliable, while Dwight Howard was neutralized by foul trouble and Philadelphia's defensive effort.
But Orlando responded with an 11-0 lead to suddenly storm in front. Courtney Lee kicked things off with a 3-pointer, then added another jumper to cut the deficit to five.
"I thought about getting him back out of the game because he was having a difficult night," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "They were backing off of him and giving him shots and he made some big ones. It was a great boost to his confidence."
One possession later, Rashard Lewis - for once taking it inside rather than settling for an outside shot - exploded into the paint, dropped in a layup and drew a foul. He completed the three-point play and Lee finished things off the same way he'd started it - with a three, pulling the Magic ahead at 86-85.
"They were hitting a lot of shots and we weren't hitting," Lee said. "Late in the fourth quarter, we kept our poise. We just started to hit our shots. We just kept playing. Basketball is a game of runs. ... In the fourth quarter, we wanted to make ours."
It was a back-and-forth battle down the stretch, with Orlando pulling back ahead by one on Howard's free throw at the 1:39 mark. About a minute later, Andre Iguodala had a chance to reverse the lead again, but Howard blocked his go-ahead attempt. It was perhaps the biggest play of the night for the All-Star center who had an otherwise uneventful night before fouling out 25 seconds later.
"They knocked down some tough shots," Iguodala said. "They made 15 threes and the majority of them were in the fourth quarter. They just did a good job of getting back in the game. The scheme worked out in the first half. In the second half, they made the shots that we were willing to give them."
Turkoglu buried a pair of foul shots to push the lead to three. Iguodala, after drawing contact on the ensuing possession, made just 1-of-2 from the line as Orlando held on.
"I thought that it was one of our best wins of the year," Van Gundy said. "We had some fight in us. It was a very hard night for us, down 14 at the half, Dwight (Howard) in foul trouble and then to be down by 10 in the fourth quarter. We just kept on fighting and we end up with the win."
Lewis and Turkoglu led the Magic with 23 points apiece as they avoided a rare two-game losing streak. Howard finished with just 12 points and eight boards, attempting just seven field goals and eight free throws.
Of course, his lack of touches inside may have had a little something to do with the Magic's persistent perimeter shooting. Already second in the NBA with 26.4 3-point attempts per contest, they outdid even themselves in this one. They unleashed 37 3-pointers - making up nearly half of their 78 field-goal attempts.
"A lot of their threes come from having a guy like Dwight Howard in the middle," Philadelphia guard Willie Green said. "He draws so much attention. Everybody is trying to double team and rotate to him down that it open things up for other people."
The strategy didn't really pay off until the fourth quarter, when Orlando's shooters finally caught fire. After Lee connected twice to stake the team to a one-point edge, the Magic knocked down four threes in a 2 1/2-minute span - more than keeping pace with the hot hand of Andre Miller, who scored eight straight points for the Sixers from mid-range or within.
Even with Miller's 23-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist showing, the Sixers weren't able to extend their modest winning streak to three games, falling back to the .500 mark.
"We haven't shown as much fight as we shown earlier in the year," Van Gundy said. "That's why I thought that game was a real important one for us. We just hung in there. That is the best thing that we did."
With the win, the Magic finished off the three-game season series with a clean sweep.
PHILADELPHIA 100 FINAL
Feb 28 9:32 PM
PHILADELPHIA 80 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 28 8:51 PM
PHILADELPHIA 57 HALFTIME
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PHILADELPHIA 32 END, 1ST QTR
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