- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - Mindful of the past, the Philadelphia 76ers are doing their best to forget a thrilling Game 1 win.

It won’t be easy.

Andre Iguodala made a 22-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining, and the Sixers rallied from an 18-point deficit to stun the Orlando Magic 100-98 on Sunday in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series.

For the second straight year, Philadelphia finds itself up 1-0 and with home-court advantage against a heavy favorite.

“We’ve been in this position before,” Iguodala said. “We still have to stay focused. We have to stay confident in ourselves and fix some of the mistakes we were making early.”

The Sixers lost six of their last seven games coming into the playoffs but were able to put that skid in the past the same way they did a year ago, when they won Game 1 at Detroit. The Pistons eventually took the series in six games.

“This is a different group than played those last seven games,” Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said. “We’re in a different mental state, different physical state because we had some games to rest.”

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 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. It was the biggest lead the Magic blew all season, topping the loss on Oct. 31 to Memphis when they were ahead by 15. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Orlando.

“There’s no need to panic,” Howard said. “It’s the first game. We just have to come out with a better effort on the defensive end. We have to get back on defense. We have to really cut our turnovers down.”

One thing the Sixers will have to clean up is their defense _ or lack thereof _ on Howard. Orlando’s do-it-all center scored at will.

Rim-rocking dunks, smooth hook shots and even some uncharacteristic crisp free throws by the Magic’s center capped a 15-3 spurt that put Orlando ahead by 18 points. 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, even joking afterward that, “I got backslapped.”

So did the rest of the Magic.

Lakers 113, Jazz 100

At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Trevor Ariza added 21 and Pau Gasol 20 for the Lakers.

Allowing a Phil Jackson-coached team to win Game 1 of any series doesn’t bode well for the opposition. Jackson’s teams have never lost a playoff series after winning Game 1, going 41-for-41 with Chicago and the Lakers.

The Lakers had their way against the Jazz, leading by 22 points at halftime and then answered resoundingly both times Utah got within nine in the second half.

Bryant’s total gave him 3,710 career postseason points, moving him past Magic Johnson and into ninth on the NBA’s list. He trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) and Jerry West (4,457) for most points in the playoffs with the Lakers.

Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 27 points and Deron Williams added 16 points and a career playoff-high 17 assists.

Game 2 is Tuesday night.

Hawks 90, Heat 64

At Atlanta, with Josh Smith delivering one rim-shaking dunk after another and plenty of teammates chipping in, the Hawks made Miami look like a one-man team.

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.

Miami was held to its fewest points of the season _ its previous low was 68 _ and the Hawks equaled the mark they set against the Charlotte Hornets in a 1998 playoff victory.

Smith scored 23 points and every other Atlanta starter also was in double figures. Wade made just 8 of 21 shots, and Michael Beasley added 10 points, and the Heat shot just 37 percent and managed only seven points in the final period.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Atlanta.

Nuggets 113, Hornets 84

At Denver, Chauncey Billups scored 36 points and made a career-best eight 3-pointers in the second-biggest blowout in the Nuggets’ playoff history.

Capitalizing on their first home-court edge in a playoff series in 21 years, the Nuggets nearly bested their previous biggest margin of victory, a 141-111 wallop of San Antonio in 1985.

Denver used a 21-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to build a 95-69 cushion, a run that was highlighted by Billups’ seventh and eighth 3s.

Billups was 8-for-9 from beyond the arc, one make off the NBA playoff record, and helped negate All-Star point guard Chris Paul’s big game.

Paul had 21 points and 11 assists for the Hornets.

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