Sixers 100 at Magic 98
The playoff opener for the heavily-favoured Orlando Magic was going according to plan, until Andre Iguodala and the Philadelphia 76ers charged back for a stunning upset.
Iguodala made a 22-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining, and the Sixers rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Orlando 100-98 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Sunday.
He then stood at halfcourt waving his hands as teammates joined him to celebrate.
“We won one more game than people thought we would win,” Iguodala said. “I was pretty amped up.”
Iguodala had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Louis Williams scored 18 to help the Sixers beat the Magic for the first time in four tries this season — and when it mattered most.
Hedo Turkoglu’s fadeaway three-pointer missed at the buzzer, and Magic fans stood in disbelief before filing out quietly.
Iguodala had missed two free throws with about a minute left before more than redeeming himself with the game-winning shot.
“He really made up for it, didn’t he?” Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said, smiling. “He’s like our secret weapon.”
Dwight Howard had a career playoff-high 31 points and 16 rebounds, and rookie Courtney Lee scored 18 for the Magic.
It was the biggest lead the Magic blew all season, topping the loss on Oct. 31 to Memphis when they were ahead by 15 points. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Orlando.
“I was very surprised at the effort,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
“I was surprised not only for our lack of intensity defensively, but I was really surprised with our lack of focus.”
The Magic’s inside-out game seemed as if it would too much for Philadelphia.
Lee’s shooting and Howard’s muscle highlighted a 15-3 run in the third quarter that built an 18-point lead. With Howard banging on the inside, the Sixers were forced to throw double-teams at him, allowing the Magic’s perimeter players to break free.
When they did, Howard again took charge.
Rim-rocking dunks, smooth hook shots and even some uncharacteristic crisp free throws by the Magic’s centre capped the spurt.
The only time Philadelphia actually slowed Howard was when Samuel Dalembert inadvertently scratched both his eyes and was called for a foul. Howard said his eyes were pulsating after the game but shouldn’t be a problem.
“I got backslapped,” Howard said.
Maybe that was all Philadelphia needed.
Howard made the pair of free throws to put Orlando ahead 79-61 and then went to the locker room with a towel to his face. He returned to the game after a few minutes.
The Sixers rolled off eight straight points in the fourth and eventually tied the game at 91 with fewer than four minutes left on a layup by Andre Miller.
After Howard’s dunk over Theo Ratliff put the Magic ahead 98-95 with 49.1 seconds remaining, Donyell Marshall answered with a three-pointer — and 11 points in the four — for Philadelphia and Iguodala did the rest.
“You’ve got to understand, when I come into the game we’re usually down 15 points,” Marshall joked. “So my job is just to come in and shoot.”
Starting Magic forwards Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu looked rusty in their first games in more than a week after being sidelined with injuries, part of the reason Orlando was pushed back to the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 spot.
Lewis said the injury didn’t slow him and what hurt after the game was the loss, not the tendinitis in his right knee.
“It’s a loss on your home court and now home-court advantage is toward them,” Lewis said. “But this is the playoffs. It’s not the NCAA tournament. One game is not going to eliminate you.”
The Magic could never make up the difference.
Jazz 100 at Lakers 113
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Trevor Ariza added 21 and Pau Gasol 20 as the Lakers defeated Utah.
Heat 64 at Hawks 90
The Hawks tied a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game, holding Miami’s Dwyane Wade, the league’s leading scorer, to 19 points.
Hornets 111 at Nuggets 141
Chauncey Billups scored 36 points and made a career-best eight three-pointers in leading the Nuggets rout of New Orleans, the second-biggest blowout in the ream’s playoff history.