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O’Neal Has Magic Touch for Orlando

From Associated Press

Last time, it was Anfernee Hardaway. This time, it was Shaquille O’Neal. Orlando’s 1-2 punch is just too much for Houston.

In a rematch of a Christmas Day game won on Hardaway’s last-second jump shot, the Magic defeated the Rockets, 97-96, Sunday at Houston when O’Neal made a layup with 4.7 seconds left, then blocked Houston’s final shot.

“We have a lot of weapons on this team, and whoever is hot needs to take it over and we need to go to them,” said O’Neal, who finished with 29 points and 16 rebounds.

Hardaway had the hot hand, blunting a Houston rally that had pushed the Rockets to as much as an eight-point advantage midway through the final period. He scored 13 of his 28 points in the final quarter of the matchup of last season’s NBA finalists.

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Hardaway scored eight of the Magic’s last 14 points, and O’Neal accounted for the other six. The Magic ended their longest trip of the season--five games over nine days--with a 2-3 mark.

O’Neal’s winning layup came after he snared a rebound after a missed shot by Dennis Scott. Then he blocked Sam Cassell’s layup attempt at the buzzer to seal the victory.

Indiana 106, Washington 96--Rik Smits scored 24 points and Reggie Miller 23 as the Pacers withstood a pair of second-half comebacks to win their NBA franchise-record 12th consecutive home game.

The Pacers led by 13 points in the first half, when Smits had 16 points, but Chris Webber scored seven of his 23 points in a two-minute stretch of the third quarter, and the Bullets tied the score at 69-69 on a basket by Rasheed Wallace.

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Indiana, which never trailed, rebuilt the lead to 12 before a three-point basket by Mark Price capped a 10-2 Bullet spurt that cut the lead to four with four minutes to go. Washington still had a chance at 101-96 after the Pacers’ Dale Davis was called for traveling, but Derrick McKey stole the inbounds pass and drove in for a layup.

Toronto 97, Boston 95--Rookie sensation Damon Stoudamire scored Toronto’s final eight points, including a game-winning baseline jumper with 11.8 seconds remaining at Toronto.

Stoudamire’s game-winning basket came after Boston’s Dino Radja had tied the score at 95 with two free throws.

Consecutive driving layups by Stoudamire forged a 93-93 tie with 2:42 left. Stoudamire then made two free throws for a 95-93 Raptor lead with 1:16 remaining.

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Rick Fox had a shot blocked and Radja missed a short jumper in the final seconds.

Chicago 111, Detroit 96--The Bulls extended two streaks, winning their 11th consecutive game and defeating Detroit for the 13th time in a row.

Michael Jordan scored 36 points and Scottie Pippen 22 as the Bulls rolled to the victory at Auburn Hills, Mich.

It was typical of the way Jordan has played lately. In his four previous games before facing Detroit, Jordan had scored 48, 46, 32 and 38 points, an average of 41 points per game. The NBA’s leading scorer is averaging a shade less than 32 points for the season.

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The NBA record for most victories with three losses is 39-3 set by the 1972 Lakers. The 1967 Philadelphia 76ers were 37-3. Both teams went on to an NBA championship. The Bulls are 34-3.

Phoenix 111, Sacramento 97--Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson returned from injuries and breathed life into the Suns at Phoenix.

Barkley scored 22 points, and Johnson had 14 of his 16 in the first half, helping the Suns to double-digit leads most of the way.

Michael Finley and A.C. Green scored 18 each, and three more Suns scored in double figures as Cotton Fitzsimmons won for the first time since taking over as coach from Paul Westphal.

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Johnson sat out the last 16 games because of a groin pull, and Barkley was out the last six because of a toenail injury on his left foot. They were unavailable the three games before Westphal was fired.

Portland 88, Cleveland 81--James Robinson, starting in place of injured Rod Strickland, scored 11 of his season-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Trail Blazers rallied at Portland.

Aaron McKie scored 21 for Portland, which has won five of six and eight of 10 and is above .500 for the first time since Dec. 15.

The Trail Blazers, playing without leading scorers Strickland and Clifford Robinson for the third consecutive game, trailed by as many as 16 in the first half and 12 in the third quarter.

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But McKie scored 11 consecutive points for Portland in a third-period comeback and Robinson made two three-point shots early in the fourth during a decisive 18-4 run.

Danny Ferry scored a career-high 29 points for the Cavaliers.

Seattle 108, Dallas 101--Gary Payton scored 29 points, outdueling Jason Kidd in a battle of point guards at Seattle.

Shawn Kemp had 26 points and 13 rebounds for the SuperSonics, who have beaten the Mavericks 17 times in the past 19 meetings and five consecutive times on their homecourt.

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George McCloud led the Mavericks with 29 points, and Kidd added 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

San Antonio 118, Philadelphia 88--David Robinson scored 23 points and Brad Lowhaus 18 for the Spurs at Philadelphia.

Rookie Jerry Stackhouse had 20 points for Philadelphia, which lost its fifth consecutive and 13th out of 15.

Robinson had 18 points at halftime, missing only one of his nine field-goal attempts as the Spurs built a 63-41 lead. San Antonio shot 59% and held Philadelphia to 26% shooting.

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Vinny Del Negro, Chuck Person and Cory Alexander each had 14 points for San Antonio, while Clarence Weatherspoon had 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Philadelphia.


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