- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Al Harrington scored 27 points, Wilson Chandler had 22 and the New York Knicks dealt a crushing blow to Orlando’s hopes of getting the Eastern Conference’s second seed with a 105-95 victory over the Magic on Friday night.

David Lee added 20 points and 16 rebounds to help the Knicks avoid a season sweep by the Magic, who won the first three games against New York this season.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 24, and Dwight Howard had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Orlando, which fell two games back of Boston for the East’s No. 2 spot. With three games left and Boston owning the tiebreaker, the Magic are likely to finish with the third seed.

Orlando continued its trend of sloppy play against losing teams.

After a home loss last week to Toronto that bounced the Magic from the East’s No. 2 spot, they needed a fourth-quarter rally to squeak by Memphis on Wednesday. The nothing-to-lose Knicks caused Orlando just as much trouble.

Quick ball movement, a smooth transition game and offensive rebounding allowed the Knicks to penetrate the paint at will.

Chandler had eight points in the third quarter, and the Knicks ran off 10 straight points to eventually go ahead 78-67 with about two minutes remaining in the period. A series of 3-pointers by Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Anthony Johnson got the Magic within two points midway through the fourth quarter before the Knicks built another lead that was too much for Orlando to overcome.

The Magic simply allowed too many easy shots.

Lee had 13 first-half points as New York scored 30 points in the paint before the break. The Magic started to find their offensive rhythm late in the first half, with Lee making a fast-break dunk and a 3-pointer to help give Orlando a 53-51 halftime lead.

The stars of the All-Star dunk competition were on display early.

Howard spun away from David Lee and finished with a backdoor alley-oop dunk on a pass from Turkoglu to cap a 9-2 run that gave the Magic a brief five-point lead. But Nate Robinson, who dethroned Howard as the dunk champ earlier this year, came roaring back.

Robinson scored the Knicks’ last eight points of the period in less than a minute to give New York a 26-25 lead. There were no dunks, though, in Robinson’s spurt. Instead, a pair of 3-pointers for the 5-foot-9 guard put the Knicks ahead.

Notes:@ Johnson, the Magic’s backup point guard, returned after missing two games with an abrasion on his right eye. He was inadvertently hit by Howard during a shootaround at Houston on Tuesday. … Center Mouhamed Sene was in uniform for the first time for the Knicks since the team signed him Thursday. The 7-footer was taken by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 10th pick in the 2006 draft and played in 46 NBA games before Oklahoma City waived him on Feb. 19. Sene averaged 10 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game this season for Albuquerque of the NBA Development League.

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