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NO MAGIC FOR SIXERS IN OT

After chasing Allen Iverson all over the court for 53 minutes, Darrell Armstrong had enough energy left to do his best Iverson impersonation.

Armstrong scored 13 of his career-high 34 points in the second overtime as the Orlando Magic overcame 47 points by Iverson to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 123-117, Friday night.

"I let him get off to a good start, but I played him better in the second half, made him take some tough shots," said Armstrong, who added 13 assists. "He's quick, I'm quick, so it was quickness against quickness. The only difference was he knew were he was going."

Tracy McGrady had 25 points -- all in regulation -- and Mike Miller added 24 points, including 16 in the third quarter, as Orlando won its third straight.

Theo Ratliff had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Tyrone Hill added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which had won 17 of its last 20 games.

"We just couldn't get it done no matter how hard we tried," Iverson said. "I'm confused about this one, but we have to move on."

Armstrong gave Orlando a 115-110 lead on a jumper with 1:50 left in the second overtime as the Sixers missed their first four shots.

After Ratliff cut it to 115-113 with a free throw, Armstrong hit a three-pointer to put it away.

The Sixers had an opportunity to win it in the first overtime, but Iverson missed a jumper at the buzzer.

"Darrell was awesome," Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "What was most important was his play on Iverson. Darrell is a gambler. I begged him not to do it tonight because if you gamble against Iverson, you're going to lose."

"We had our chances," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "We made a phenomenal comeback and had our chances to win in regulation and in the first overtime. We just had nothing left."

Iverson shot just 15 of 35, including 1 for 5 in overtime.

Johnson leads by example

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the New York Knicks struggling, Larry Johnson led with more than his mouth against the New Jersey Nets.

Johnson scored 20 points and combined with Allan Houston to lead a game-breaking third-quarter spurt that carried the Knicks to a 95-71 victory over the Nets.

"Every game is critical," said Johnson after the Knicks won for only the second time in six games. "We're not at the top of our game now. We're not strutting against anybody right now. There are no easy victories."

This one might have been the exception as the Knicks built an 18-point lead early in the third quarter and coasted.

Houston finished with 19, Latrell Sprewell added 18 and the Knicks held New Jersey to two fourth-quarter field goals in sending the Nets to their seventh straight loss.

"We really needed this win and everybody realized it," said Johnson, who has been the Knicks' inspirational leader in the locker room all season. "We're still trying to find our identity as a team and we're trying to put a run together before the All-Star break."

Despite the lopsided win, Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy sounded pessimistic after the game. As usual, he prodded the Knicks for a lack of interest at times and lauded Johnson for trying to keep them focused.

"Yeah, he's a great leader," Van Gundy said of Johnson. "I just don't know why you have to keep guys interested. It's their job. I don't understand that. It goes to a bigger problem, a league-wide problem. How can you be disinterested in your job?"

With Keith Van Horn sidelined with a virus, the Knicks did an excellent job of taking Nets point guard Stephon Marbury out of the game. He scored a team-high 14 points, but he had to work for every one.

"Those guys play defense," said Marbury, who shot 5 for 14 from the field. "They play together. They help each other. They do everything it takes to win. It's tough. It's hard to play against three people."

Rested Reg burns Nuggets

INDIANAPOLIS -- More rest on the bench meant more points later for Reggie Miller.

Miller, who played only five minutes and did not score in the third quarter, had 14 of his 27 points in the final period as the Indiana Pacers beat Denver, 103-94. It was the Pacers' 10th straight victory over the Nuggets over the past six years.

"I felt much fresher in the fourth. I felt I had my legs under me," Miller said. "I think we're probably going to go to a different strategy in my minutes, which is pretty good to cut down a little bit so I can be a little bit fresher late in the ball game."

The Nuggets trailed by only three midway through the fourth quarter before a three-pointer by Miller. Two free throws by Miller, two straight baskets by Travis Best and another three-pointer by Miller helped the Pacers to an 11-point lead and Denver never recovered.

The 27 points by Miller were the most since he scored 30 against Utah more than three weeks ago.

Jalen Rose added 26 points for the Pacers, who snapped a four-game losing streak -- three in a row at home -- and extended Denver's losing streaks to five straight on the road and three in a row overall.

"I've been playing him 40-plus minutes and I thought tonight was a good night to get him rest," Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said of Miller, who played 39 minutes. "We've got to continue to buy him time in the game."

Denver led, 52-51, at halftime and took its last lead at 68-67 late in the third quarter on a basket by Antonio McDyess, who led the Nuggets with 25 points.

Around the rim

Eddie Jones scored 24 points and Tim Hardaway added 18 as the Heat won for the sixth time in seven games, 91-80, over the Hawks. Jones also had a season-high 12 rebounds and a game-high five assists. Hardaway left the game midway through the third quarter after injuring his right knee. He returned in the fourth wearing an elastic brace. Jason Terry scored 31 points for the Hawks, who lost their third straight game to Miami. Lorenzen Wright had 17 points and 10 rebounds. . . . Paul Pierce scored 40 points as the Celtics extended their winning streak to a season-best five games with a 102-95 win over the Pistons. Eric Williams scored 17, Bryant Stith had 14 and Vitaly Potapenko added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who took control of the game with a 26-6 run midway through the second quarter. Jerry Stackhouse, who tied a team record with 20 points in the first quarter, finished with 40 points and reserve Mateen Cleaves added 13 for the Pistons, who lost their eighth straight home game. . . . Blazers forward Rasheed Wallace was suspended for two games without pay and fined $10,000 by the NBA for hitting an official with a towel Thursday night. . . . Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, already the NBA's longest-tenured coach, signed a three-year extension.

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