No Howard, No Problem for Magic

  • April 30, 2009, 11:27 PM

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- With double-double machine Dwight Howard suspended, the Magic advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, 114-89, in Game 6 on Thursday.

''The only thing I said in the locker room before the game was, 'Be great,''' coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''They wanted to prove something. They have great appreciation in that we would be where we are without Dwight.''

Playing without Howard and injured guard Courtney Lee, the Magic thumped the Sixers from the start. Howard, who was suspended one game by the NBA for his elbow on Sixers center Samuel Dalembert in Game 5, will return when the Magic play the winner of the Boston-Chicago series.

For a game at least, the Magic didn't need their Superman.

''They're actually better without Dwight Howard,'' Sixers guard Andre Miller said. ''One of their players told me that they were better without Dwight Howard. They said the ball moves quicker. They're not standing around a lot.''

Rashard Lewis scored 29 points and Rafer Alston had 21 to help the Magic win for the second time this series in Philadelphia. The Magic's decisive run came early when they made 12 of their first 19 shots.

Alston hit two 3-pointers during the Magic's fast start that put them up 15 and quickly negated the home crowd. J.J. Redick made all three 3-point attempts in the first half and ably filled in for Lee.

Lee, knocked out of the series by Howard's inadvertent elbow to the head, had surgery on his fractured sinus Thursday and Van Gundy said it was possible the guard could possibly be out two more weeks.

Hedo Turkoglu wasn't around to see the end of the game. He tussled with Dalembert in the paint, the two briefly locking up before teammates rushed over to separate them.

Turkoglu was hit with his second technical of the game and was ejected, pointing and yelling at Dalembert from the bench before he was quickly ushered into the locker room. Dalembert also got a technical in the fourth-quarter skirmish but remained in the game.

Van Gundy kept starters Lewis, Alston and Marcin Gortat, who had 11 points and 15 rebounds points filling in for Howard, played until the final horn.

Gortat asked for a prayer when he texted Howard before the game.

''He said he was praying for the whole team,'' Gortat said. ''I'm 100 percent sure he was laughing during the game with everything that was going right for us.''

Miller scored 24 points and Andre Iguodala had 20 for the Sixers, who were eliminated in the first round for the second straight season and face a cloudy offseason. Miller is a free agent and coach Tony DiLeo has to decide if he wants to return to the bench or go back to the front office.

''We had no answer,'' DiLeo said. ''They had the first punch and we never had a counterpunch.''

The Sixers never made a serious run and were booed off the court at the end of the third quarter.

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