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NBA ROUNDUP

Pacers no match for Magic

Iverson carries 76ers into playoffs

Steve Francis scored 24 points, including a big jumper with 10 seconds to play, as the Magic beat the Indiana Pacers, 92-88, last night in Orlando, Fla.

DeShawn Stevenson added 18 points and rookie Dwight Howard had 17 points and nine rebounds for Orlando, which ended a seven-game losing streak.

Indiana got 19 points from reserve point guard Fred Jones and 16 from Jermaine O'Neal, but lost its third straight game. The Pacers remained sixth in the Eastern Conference, one game in front of Philadelphia. Both have one game to play.

Indiana's loss gave the Celtics home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Celtics could play the Pacers or the 76ers in the first round.

If Philadelphia wins and Indiana loses tomorrow, the Sixers will claim the sixth spot in the East because they hold the season-series tiebreaker over the Pacers, 4-0.

Reggie Miller had 13 points for the Pacers, but was 5 of 13 from the field, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range.

Orlando led most of the game thanks to 48 percent shooting, but needed Francis's 20-footer from the top of the key and Tony Battie's two free throws with eight seconds left to hold off Indiana.

The Pacers trailed by 11 points midway through the third quarter when they went outside to get back in the game, hitting five 3-pointers at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.

James Jones's jumper from just inside the arc gave Indiana an 84-83 lead with 3:55 to play. That was the Pacers' first and only lead since early in the game.

76ers 122, Bucks 106 -- Allen Iverson helped put Philadelphia back in the playoffs and a date with former coach Larry Brown and the Detroit Pistons could be next.

Iverson had 39 points and 12 assists, and Kyle Korver scored 19 points to lead the 76ers back into the postseason for the first time in two years with a victory over visiting Milwaukee.

The Sixers blew a chance to clinch a playoff spot a day earlier by losing in New Jersey, but they didn't waste this opportunity. They raced to a 22-point lead and won for the seventh time in nine games and 10th in the last 15 -- a fantastic finish for a team that seemed headed toward the lottery about six weeks ago.

After finishing 33-49 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 1998, the Sixers hired coach Jim O'Brien, got outstanding seasons from their young nucleus of Korver, Samuel Dalembert and Iguodola and traded for Webber in February.

Grizzlies 94, Spurs 92 -- Mike Miller scored 28 points, including a 22-footer at the buzzer, and Memphis's win over visiting San Antonio ensured Phoenix will finish with the best record in the league. The Suns will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Miller's final shot came from the right wing after the Grizzlies inbounded the ball with 1.4 seconds left.

Officials discussed the matter at midcourt for about five minutes before referee Steve Javie came to the scorer's table and ruled the basket good.

Elsewhere -- Joe Johnson scored 18 of his 26 points in a 44-point first quarter that showcased Phoenix at its high-flying best. The Suns shot 71 percent (17 for 24) in the quarter to blow open a 19-point lead and defeat the visiting Denver Nuggets, 128-114 . . . Wally Szczerbiak scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, leading Minnesota to a 102-99 comeback victory over host New Orleans . . . Yao Ming had 24 points and Tracy McGrady added 16 points to lead the Rockets to their sixth straight win, 115-90, over the Los Angeles Clippers in Houston. The victory gave the Rockets their sixth 50-win season . . . Matt Harpring had 24 points and 13 rebounds and the Utah Jazz beat the Sacramento Kings at home for the first time in five years, 92-82 . . . Baron Davis had 24 points and 13 assists and Golden State sent Los Angeles to its fifth straight defeat with one of the Warriors' biggest wins over the Lakers, 126-99, in Oakland, Calif.

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