Missing three starters, Sixers cruise


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The depleted Philadelphia 76ers are playing
playoff-caliber basketball at just the right time.

Despite missing three injured starters, including Allen Iverson,
Philadelphia clinched a postseason berth by beating Orlando 95-89
Sunday, behind Eric Snow's 22 points and Dikembe Mutombo's 18
points and 12 rebounds.

The 76ers have won three straight games and four of their last
five to tie Orlando for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

In addition to Iverson, out with a broken left hand, the 76ers
were without Aaron McKie (scratched cornea) and Derrick Coleman
(hyperextended left knee).

"This is about as satisfying a win as we've had," 76ers coach
Larry Brown said. "Plus, we played as a team, which was the best

Iverson had his cast removed Thursday, but he isn't expected to
return until the playoffs. McKie is still lightheaded after being
poked in the eye April 10, and Coleman is day-to-day and didn't
make the trip with the team.

Philadelphia's Speedy Claxton, in his 17th start of the year,
scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. It was his second
straight 19-point outing after missing four straight games and five
of six with a mild concussion.

"This team has been through so much for the whole year. We've
only had our whole team for three games this year," said Claxton,
who also had eight assists. "We've gone through a lot of
adversity, but we overcame it."

Raja Bell, filling in for Coleman and making his 12th start, had
nine points and a career-high nine rebounds.

Orlando lost its third straight game and had its six-game
winning streak against Philadelphia snapped.

"Three games ago, we looked very comfortable with home-court
advantage (for the playoffs' first round), and now we're going to
be scrambling to get it," Magic coach Doc Rivers said.

"It's amazing how things turn around."

Tracy McGrady had 31 points and nine rebounds to lead the Magic,
while reserve Troy Hudson scored 15.

"I think we just got a little complacent, got a little
satisfied," McGrady said. "We let our guards down and thought we
were going to cruise through the regular season."

Philadelphia put Sunday's game away early in the final quarter.
Mutombo broke a 71-71 tie with a hook shot, sparking a 10-0 run.
Claxton capped the burst with a layin that put the Sixers ahead
81-71 with 7 minutes remaining, and Orlando never again came
closer than four points.

The 76ers outrebounded Orlando 49-21. Philadelphia's starting
front three of Mutombo, Bell and Matt Harpring had 32 rebounds to
11 for their Magic counterparts of Horace Grant, Mike Miller and
Pat Garrity.

"We need to control the boards, especially when we're
shorthanded," said Harpring, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"Usually, when you can hold a team to their first shot, you're
going to win the game. We limited them on second shots."

Rivers made no attempt to hide his displeasure over the
rebounding disparity. To him, it was a simple case of being

"They got every rebound, every loose ball," Rivers said, "and
all we did was complain."

Game notes
Philadelphia last beat Orlando on Nov. 3, 2000. ... The
Sixers have a record of 5-21 at the T.D. Waterhouse Centre. ...
Orlando C Patrick Ewing didn't play at all -- his second Did Not
Play-Coach's Decision in nine games. "I expect to play, I came
here to play," said Ewing, whose 1,182 career games rank 22nd in
NBA history. "I knew Orlando was a retirement town, but ... ."