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Howard Dominates, Magic Up 3-2

Posted: April 28, 2009, 10:29 PM ; Updated: April 28, 2009, 10:58 PM

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Dwight Howard did so much damage to the Philadelphia 76ers he set off a coaching feud.

Howard had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds, a dominating performance that powered the Magic to a 91-78 victory over the Sixers on Tuesday night and gave Orlando a 3-2 series lead.

Afterward, Philadelphia coach Tony DiLeo said Howard should have been called for 3 seconds in the lane several times and asked the league to look into an elbow from Howard on Samuel Dalembert.

''Dwight Howard had a great game, and he's a great player, but he just lives in the 3-second lane on offense and defense,'' DiLeo said. ''I'm just saying he's standing in the 3-second lane on offense and defense. He's a great player, and he doesn't need any advantages.''

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy heard DiLeo's remarks, took the podium and defended his star center by taking a shot at DiLeo.

''Am I supposed to come up here and talk about the game. Or am I supposed to come up here and lobby for the calls I want the next game?'' Van Gundy said. ''Is that what it's about now? We're supposed to lobby for the calls we want the next game? Let's just play the games.

''I guess that's the only reason Dwight's having success in this series. It has nothing to do with the fact that he's good.''

Howard had help.

Rashard Lewis snapped out of his playoff slump with a series-high 24 points, and Rafer Alston scored 14 for the Magic. But it was Howard's fourth career playoff game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds that carried the Magic.

Andre Iguodala scored 26 points and led a second-half charge that fizzled fast, and Andre Miller added 17 points for Philadelphia.

The Sixers face elimination in Game 6 in the best-of-seven series on Thursday in Philadelphia. A potential Game 7 would be Saturday in Orlando.

Iguodala said it was hard to tell if Howard should have been whistled, but was sure of one thing.

''I just know when I'm going to the basket, he's always there,'' Iguodala said.

The Magic managed to keep home-court advantage without starting shooting guard Courtney Lee, who took an elbow to the head from Howard early in the first quarter and never returned. He was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests.

Thanks to Howard, he wasn't missed.

Howard led a third-quarter surge, muscling his way past the Sixers and elevating above everyone. He had two dunks, including an alley-oop from Hedo Turkoglu over Theo Ratliff, that highlighted a 12-5 run to put the Magic ahead 58-47 and put the blue-and-white crowd into a Thunderstick-pounding frenzy.

But just like they've done all series, the Sixers came back.

Philadelphia cut the deficit to four points in only a few minutes on Iguodala's three-point play, converting a running layup on a foul by Turkoglu. The Magic went ahead 69-60 at the end of the period on a 3-pointer by Turkoglu, and they took a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter on a layup by Howard.

The Sixers are now in the same position as a year ago, when they took a 2-1 series lead on Detroit before losing in six games. Philadelphia hasn't won a playoff series since beating New Orleans in the first round in 2003.

Plans changed fast for the Magic.

Lee's injury knocked him out of the game - and possibly longer - and threw off Orlando's rotation. Howard soared high and blocked a shot by Willie Green on the play in the first quarter. Howard's elbow came down on Lee, who was on the floor for a few minutes before going to the locker room for good with a towel to his head. His status for Game 6 was not immediately clear.

What had DiLeo upset was another elbow from Howard.

Howard and Dalembert got tangled up going for a rebound in the first quarter, and Howard was called for a technical foul on the play after he apparently hit Dalembert with his elbow.

Howard said he doesn't feel he should face any suspensions for the hit.

''Very physical in the paint,'' Howard said. ''It's been very physical in the series. All we can do is hope for the best. It's been a dogfight all series. It wasn't like I was out there trying to hurt anybody.''

Van Gundy also had a joking response to DiLeo's comments on the elbow allegation: ''We're going to have the league look at Dwight's elbow on (Lee), too.''

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