Magic battle to victory over Nets

Posted: Sunday, April 03, 2005


  New Jersey Nets' Travis Best (6) loses the ball as he is fouled by Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard during the first quarter Saturday night, April 2, 2005, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

New Jersey Nets' Travis Best (6) loses the ball as he is fouled by Orlando Magic forward Dwight Howard during the first quarter Saturday night, April 2, 2005, in East Rutherford, N.J.

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Refusing to quit despite all sorts of adversity, the Orlando Magic mounted several comebacks and defeated the New Jersey Nets 103-102 Saturday night to clinch the tiebreaker between the teams.

Steve Francis had 33 points, five assists and seven rebounds for Orlando, which won the season series 3-1 with a gutty performance befitting of a team fighting to make the playoffs.

The Magic, who were missing starters Grant Hill and Jameer Nelson, had lost 11 of 14 coming in and were at risk of falling two games behind Philadelphia for eighth place in the East.

Instead, Orlando passed New Jersey in the conference standings and sent the Nets to a crushing loss.

Rookie Nenad Krstic scored a career-high 28 points to lead New Jersey.

Heat 111, Hornets 99

NEW ORLEANS — Shaquille O'Neal had 34 points and 15 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 33 points, and the pair combined for more than a dozen dunks to help Miami defeat New Orleans.

Wade and O'Neal entered the game averaging a combined 47.1 points, a mark they surpassed in the third quarter, when the Heat lead by as many as 20.

P.J. Brown scored a season-high 21 in a rare reserve role for New Orleans.

Bulls 112, Bobcats 97

CHICAGO — Othella Harrington scored 22 points and Chicago won its ninth straight game.

The Bulls easily extended their season-high winning streak and moved 10 games over .500 despite missing two players. Chicago moved a half-game behind the Washington Wizards for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Eddy Curry missed his third straight game and remained hospitalized for more testing on an irregular heartbeat. Luol Deng also missed the game for Chicago with a sprained right wrist.

Rookie Emeka Okafor was impressive early for the Bobcats and finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds.

Spurs 95, Lakers 94

SAN ANTONIO — Brent Barry banked in a running layup with 6.7 seconds left to lift the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the reeling Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Kobe Bryant had a chance to win it, but missed an 18-footer off the back rim at the buzzer.

The Lakers have lost 10 of 11, including seven straight on the road. San Antonio swept the series between the teams for the second time in three years. Los Angeles is now 33-39. The last time they were this far under .500 in April was in 1994. They finished that season at 33-49.

The Lakers, who trailed by six points early in the fourth, went ahead 94-93 when Caron Butler stole the ball from Manu Ginobili and went in for a layup with 14.3 seconds left.

On San Antonio's final possession, Barry inbounded the ball to Rasho Nesterovic near the Spurs' free-throw line and cut past him on a give-and-go play. Barry drove and collided with Butler near the basket before putting up his winning shot.

Barry scored 20 points for the Spurs, who bounced back from Friday night's 18-point loss in Denver. Tony Parker added 17 points and nine assists, while Horry had 13 and Nesterovic 12 on 6-for-7 shooting. Butler led Los Angeles with 27 points. Bryant, averaging 30.6 points in his last five games, finished with 15 points on 6-for-19 shooting, and Brian Grant had 10 points.

Nuggets 103, Trail Blazers 97

PORTLAND, Ore. — Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and reserve Earl Boykins added 17 points, leading the Denver Nuggets to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Andre Miller added 16 points for the Nuggets, who have won 17 of 19 games and hold a half-game lead over Memphis in the race for the seventh playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Damon Stoudamire led the Trail Blazers with 27 points, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 20.

Portland struggled midway through the fourth quarter, going scoreless for almost 7 minutes. Denver took advantage of the Trail Blazers' troubles, extending its lead to 11 points.

Denver improved to 23-6 under coach George Karl, who took over when Michael Cooper was fired.

Portland has lost 19 of its last 22 games, and interim coach Kevin Pritchard has just two wins since replacing the fired Maurice Cheeks on March 2.

Nene added 14 points and six rebounds for the Nuggets, who shot 53 percent.

Sebastian Telfair, who was coming off an 18-point game against Seattle on Friday, finished with 16 points and 10 assists for Portland.

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