Sixers defeat Magic 96-94, lead series 2-1

April 24, 2009 8:58:13 PM PDT
Held in check all night, Thaddeus Young delivered at the end. 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.

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 first playoff series victory since Allen Iverson led them to the NBA finals in 2001.

Dwight Howard had 34 points for the Magic, who won 59 games during the regular season. Andre Iguodala led the Sixers with 29, though he missed two free throws in the final minute.

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, Andre 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 and dropped in a left-handed shot to send the crowd into a frenzy. 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.

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