NBA

Howard scores 24, grabs 24 boards as Magic go up 3-2

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The Sports Network
4/29/2009 12:23:39 AM
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Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Dwight Howard scored 24 points and pulled down a playoff career-high 24 rebounds, as Orlando beat Philadelphia, 91-78, to take the pivotal Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Rashard Lewis also scored 24, while Rafer Alston added 14 points for the Magic, who grabbed a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series.

Andre Iguodala netted 26 points for the Sixers, who also received 17 points from Andre Miller and 16 from Willie Green.

Game 6 is Thursday in Philadelphia, and if necessary a deciding Game 7 would be Saturday in Orlando.

"The team has to stay aggressive," said Iguodala. "I thought we were aggressive tonight. There were a lot of whistles on the defensive end. I think we have to stay that way. We can't change our game too much. They called a lot of fouls with Dwight posting up. Theo (Ratliff) was banging him a little bit and got into some foul trouble. I think from that standpoint we have to stay tough. We have to take care of the ball and get more quality shots."

Howard was hit with a technical foul for elbowing Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert to the head in the first quarter, and there's some question whether or not it will lead to a suspension. Additionally, Magic shooting guard Courtney Lee left the game in the opening quarter with an apparent head injury.

"We've already asked the league to look into it," Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said of Howard possibly being suspended. "I didn't see the play clearly, live. I'm sure the league will look into it and they know about the play, so we'll just let them make the interpretation on that."

Howard was hopeful he'd get a chance to play in Game 6.

"I hope there isn't any suspension," he said. "But it's very physical in the paint. It's been physical the whole series. All we can do is hope for the best. It's been a dog fight the whole series. We're trying to be a more physical team."

DiLeo was also upset that Howard wasn't called for being in the lane more than three seconds on several occasions, something that was brushed off by Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

"Let's just play the games," Van Gundy said. "I guess that's the only reason Dwight is having success in the series, it has nothing to do with the fact that he's good."

The Sixers scored the game's first six points, but with 9:15 left in the period, Howard elbowed Dalembert while the two battled for position underneath the basket.

Then, midway through the quarter, Howard blocked a shot from Green, but his elbow came down on Lee's head. Lee remained on the court, lying on the baseline for two possessions and was then helped to the locker room.

After the game, Van Gundy said Lee was getting a CAT scan.

Orlando eventually pushed in front by as many as six in the quarter before settling for a 21-20 edge after 12 minutes.

It remained tight throughout the second, but the Magic carried a 45-39 advantage to the locker room.

Howard's bucket moved Orlando's lead to 54-44 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the third and the Magic went to the fourth ahead, 69-60.

"We have to execute offensively and defensively," said Ratliff. "We can't let them get the offensive rebounds that they got tonight. We have to stop penetration. That is the biggest key for us. We let them get too much penetration down the middle and that breaks the defense down. Guys have to come over and help and leave guys to rebound the ball and put it in. That is a hard cover."

A three-pointer by Lewis moved the lead to 76-64 with just over nine minutes left, but the Sixers closed within 82-76 following an Iguodala jam with 3:12 remaining. Lewis then hit two straight shots and Alston's jumper made it 88-76 inside the final minute.

After the game, Howard fired back at the verbal shots from DiLeo.

"I don't think there's an advantage of me being in the paint the whole series," said Howard. "I've been doing the same thing the whole series. And I'm not going to complain about anything. I don't think they should complain. It's basketball, it's a tough series. I don't think they should say that I stay in the paint too long. I've been doing the same thing for five games and why change it. But I don't think I've been in the paint too long."

Notes: Orlando went 8-of-23 from three-point range, while the Sixers were 4-of-18 from beyond the arc...Howard had 10 offensive rebounds...Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu, who hit the winning three-pointer in Game 4, was limited to nine points on 3-of-14 shooting on Tuesday...Dalembert had nine rebounds...This was Howard's fourth playoff game with at least 20 points and 20 boards.

Dwight Howard (Photo: Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
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