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Young’s ‘biggest shot’ lifts 76ers to win

PHILADELPHIA – Thaddeus Young started his drive to the basket and was thinking pass, only to alter his plans because he nearly lost the ball.

Instead of an assist or even worse, a turnover, Young made the biggest shot of his life.

Young’s driving layup with 2 seconds left lifted Philadelphia to a 96-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night, giving the 76ers a surprising 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

“It was the biggest shot ever for me,” Young said. “It was a lucky shot. I’m glad I hit it. I’m glad the ball was in my hands.”

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday night at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers, who stumbled into the playoffs with six losses in their last seven games and a 41-41 record, are two wins away from their second playoff series victory since Allen Iverson led them to the NBA finals in 2001.

Dwight Howard had 36 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic, who won 59 games during the regular season. Ex-Arizona Wildcat Andre Iguodala led the Sixers with 29 points, though he missed two free throws in the final minute. Andre Miller added 24 and Young had six.

“We were badly outplayed for 30 minutes,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’re lucky to even be in the situation we’re in. They had no trouble scoring on us and other than Dwight, we didn’t do much offensively.”

Orlando, which blew 18-point leads in the first two games, nearly overcame a 17-point deficit in this one.

With the Magic down 94-91, Howard made one of two free throws with 31 seconds left. Following a timeout, Miller missed a driving layup and Rashard Lewis grabbed the rebound with 7.4 seconds left. Howard then was fouled at the other end, and he made both free throws to tie it at 94.

But Young took a pass near the baseline and drove hard to the basket. He nearly lost possession, held onto the ball, went around Howard and dropped in a left-handed shot to send the crowd into a frenzy.

“I was expecting a jump ball or something, but he just made the shot,” Howard said. “It hurts.”

Lewis’ desperation heave at the end missed and the Magic suddenly found themselves in a tough spot in a series everyone expected them to win.

Instead, it’s the Sixers who are finding ways to hit the big shots at the end. Iguodala drained a 22-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift the Sixers to a 100-98 victory in Game 1. Orlando held on for a 96-87 win in Game 2 after its big lead was cut to five points late in the fourth quarter.



Saturday’s games

Denver at New Orleans, 10 a.m., ESPN; San Antonio at Dallas, 1 p.m., TNT; Atlanta at Miami, 3:30 p.m., TNT; L.A. Lakers at Utah, 6 p.m., ESPN

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

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For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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