ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Andre Iguodala and the Philadelphia 76ers left the Magic stunned and the home fans silenced.
Iguodala made a 22-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining, and the 76ers rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Orlando 100-98 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series Sunday.
Iguodala had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Louis Williams scored 18 to help the 76ers beat the Magic for the first time in four tries this season _ and when it mattered most. Hedo Turkoglu’s fadeaway 3-pointer missed at the buzzer, and Magic fans stood in disbelief before filing out quietly.
Dwight Howard had a career playoff-high 31 points and 16 rebounds, and rookie Courtney Lee scored 18 for the Magic. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Orlando.
Orlando’s inside-out game seemed to be 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. 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 center capped the spurt. The only time Philadelphia actually slowed Howard was when Samuel Dalembert inadvertently poked him in the eye and was called for a foul.
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 3-pointer for Philadelphia and Iguodala did the rest.
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. The Magic could never make up the difference.
The sixth-seeded Sixers were able to withstand an early Magic run and a strong start from Howard. Thaddeus Young had consecutive three-point plays to help Philadelphia rebound from five down to eventually take a 27-21 lead in the first quarter.
But any momentum the Sixers built evaporated on the final play of the period.
In a rare display of speed and power, 34-year-old Magic backup guard Anthony Johnson took it end-to-end and dunked over Ratliff. The throttling one-hand slam in the waning seconds of the quarter had the Magic’s bench so exhilarated that coach Stan Van Gundy had to shove a few of his own players back who had made their way onto the court in celebration.
It was premature.
The Sixers hung tough and bumped back, with Iguodala going for a pair of reverse dunks in a back-and-forth second quarter. Philadelphia had an answer for everything Orlando threw its way. Everything, that is, except Howard.
The Magic’s dunk machine moved players at will, shooting 7-for-9 in the first half with 18 points and seven rebounds. Howard gave a jolt to a late Orlando run by blocking a layup attempt by Iguodala in which Howard practically soared over teammate Courtney Lee to throw the shot out of bounds and help the Magic take a 50-46 halftime lead.
Notes:@ Howard’s previous playoff high was 29 points against the Raptors in the first round last year. It was Howard’s 15th career playoff game. … Central Florida resident and the Magic’s most famous fan, Tiger Woods, was sitting at his courtside seat across from Philadelphia’s bench. … Lewis had missed the last three games with right knee tendinitis. Turkoglu had been sidelined for the last two games with a sprained left ankle.