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Sixers stun Magic; Cavs, Rockets win

THE underdog Philadelphia 76ers stunned the Orlando Magic when a last-second shot gave them a 96-94 victory in Philadelphia and a lead in their playoff series on Friday.

Thaddeus Young maneuvered around the league's top defensive player Dwight Howard for a layup with two seconds left to lift the 76ers to a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven playoff.

The heavily-favored Magic were also burned late in Game 1 when Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala knocked down a jumper in the final seconds.

"They were expecting me to get the ball like I did in Game 1, and Thaddeus did a great job of getting open," Iguodala told reporters after finishing with a team-high 29 points.

"That's a new play we put in, and every option has worked every time we've run it."

Howard had a monster game for Orlando with 36 points and 11 rebounds as well as making two game-tying free throws with six seconds left.

Andre Miller added 24 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers, who led by as much as 17 before the Magic embarked on an 18-4 run to pull within 78-75 late in the third quarter. Game 4 is tomorrow in Orlando.

Meanwhile at the Palace on Auburn Hill in Detroit, a scowling, growling LeBron James flirted with a triple-double to help the Cleveland Cavaliers push the Detroit Pistons to the brink of playoff elimination with a clinical 79-68 victory.

Close contest

James had 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to break open a close contest and give the Cavaliers a 3-0 series lead which they can convert into a sweep in Game 4 in Detroit tomorrow.

The All-Star forward also had 11 rebounds and nine assists while Joe Smith came off the bench to contribute 19 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.

Richard Hamilton led the way with 15 points for the Pistons, who have appeared in six consecutive Eastern Conference finals but appear to have finally run out of gas.

In the West, the Houston Rockets held off a late rally from the Portland Trail Blazers and captured an 86-83 win to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Rockets got 19 points from Luis Scola en route to the home win.

Shane Battier added 16 points and the Rockets got away with a quiet night from Yao Ming to beat the Blazers for the 11th time in the last 12 meetings in Houston.

The Blazers trailed by 11 midway through the final quarter but a trio of three-pointers in the final 23 seconds got them close and they were down only 80-81 with 16 seconds to go.

"That's a testament to Portland, they played with a lot of heart," Battier said. "This game wasn't over until the clock hit zero."

Portland All-Star guard Brandon Roy was held to 19 points, a game after dropping 42 in a Blazers' win. Game 4 is also in Houston tomorrow.


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