National Basketball Association
Fourth-quarter rally saves Magic
National Basketball Association

Fourth-quarter rally saves Magic

Published Mar. 24, 2009 4:55 a.m. ET

A division title is waiting for the Magic. All they have to do is beat the reigning NBA champions.

Orlando's big man is ready for the big challenge.

Dwight Howard had 29 points and 14 rebounds, Hedo Turkoglu led a fourth-quarter rally, and the Magic tuned up for a showdown with Boston by beating the New York Knicks 106-102 on Monday night.

Turkoglu scored 12 of his 16 points in the final period for the Magic, who lowered their magic number to one to clinch their second straight Southeast Division title. That could come Wednesday, when they host the Celtics in a game where second place in the Eastern Conference will be at stake.

"It is a big game," Howard said. "They've got a lot of their guys back, so we're looking forward to it. They won their last couple of games and I think it'll be a good matchup."

Orlando is a game behind Boston for the No. 2 seed. Courtney Lee scored 22 points on some clutch free throws shooting for the Magic, who have won three in a row, the last two coming in a sweep of a home-and-home series with the Knicks.

Nate Robinson scored 19 on just 6-of-23 shooting for New York, which dropped its fifth straight in a late-season collapse after entertaining hopes of a playoff spot a week ago. The Knicks honored seven players from their past at halftime, then extended their dismal present by clinching an eighth straight losing season, tying a franchise worst.

"I'm not worried about what happened the last seven years, I'm worried about this year," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I'm not very happy the way things are going right now, but we're playing pretty well, we're playing hard, and as long as we can do that, keep trying to get a little bit better."

David Lee had 14 points and 13 rebounds in his return after missing the loss Saturday in Orlando with right knee tendinitis, but the Knicks were without Larry Hughes, who left that game with an injured left big toe.

New York built an 11-point lead late in the third quarter before Turkoglu brought Orlando back. He converted a three-point play early in the fourth, then had two 3-pointers as the Magic cut it to 90-87 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

"They kept leaving me open," Turkoglu said. "I guess they thought I was missing first half, I would keep missing or I would stop shooting. But you know me, I never stop shooting."

Courtney Lee's drive cut it to one, Howard gave the Magic the lead with a follow dunk, and Turkoglu added another layup to give Orlando a 93-90 edge with 3:20 remaining. Quentin Richardson's 3-pointer tied it, but Rafer Alston answered with a 3 to give Orlando the lead for good at 96-93 with 2:36 to go.

Robinson converted a three-point play and Richardson hit a pair of free throws to get the Knicks with 100-99 with 13 seconds left, but Lee sank a pair from the line, and after Robinson missed a potential tying 3, Rashard Lewis added two more free throws to make it 104-99.

Lee added two more free throws after Chris Duhon's 3 cut it to two.

Richardson and Wilson Chandler each scored 17 points and Duhon finished with 16 for the Knicks, who allowed 36 points in the final quarter.

"Just a couple of miscues here and there," Richardson said. "We had a lot of momentum and we would get a turnover or miss a shot and we wouldn't get a chance to capitalize."

Howard scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter, but his teammates were just 2-of-11 and the game was tied at 24. Howard had 20 at the half, but the Knicks led 54-50, getting a nice spark from Chris Wilcox, who had eight points in the second quarter on 4-of-5 shooting - the miss was a botched dunk that bounced back out to the foul line.


D'Antoni said rookie Danilo Gallinari was expected back in New York later Monday after returning to his native Italy for additional opinions on his ailing back. A decision on whether surgery is needed could come later this week. ... The Knicks had eight straight losing seasons from 1959-1967. ... Orlando has won 11 of the last 15 meetings.


Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more