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NBA briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2001


Magic back in playoffs

ORLANDO -- After seeing Tracy McGrady hobble to the locker room the night before, Magic coach Doc Rivers wanted to know only one thing before the game against Boston on Wednesday night: Could he play?

Could he ever.

McGrady, who strained his right quadriceps Tuesday in New York, had 34 points and a career-high 11 assists as Orlando clinched a playoff berth with a 108-101 win.

"I'm not going to let anything stop me from going on," said McGrady, who scored 22 points after halftime. "This team needs me, and I'm there for them."

Orlando returns to the post-season after a one-year absence. It is seventh in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Toronto.

Boston dropped a half-game behind idle Indiana in the race for the eighth and final East playoff spot.

Antoine Walker scored 24 points for the Celtics.

McGrady's ball distribution was essential. The Magic was without point guard Darrell Armstrong, who was placed on the injured list after reaggravating a groin injury in the loss to the Knicks. Armstrong's streak of consecutive games ended at a team-record 206.

RAPTORS 97, CAVALIERS 94: Visiting Toronto officially clinched a playoff berth. The Raptors were told before the game that they had clinched a spot Tuesday. It took the Elias Sports Bureau until Wednesday to determine their fate because of a complicated procedure involving tiebreakers.

76ERS 90, PISTONS 84: Those who went to see the NBA's top two scorers left disappointed. Philadelphia's Allen Iverson sat out with a bruised tailbone. Host Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse was ejected with 16 minutes left after getting his second technical foul.

Stackhouse had 14 points a day after scoring an NBA season-high and team-record 57 vs. Chicago.

Philadelphia starters Tyrone Hill and Aaron McKie also missed the game. Hill has a back sprain and McKie a sprained right knee.

SUNS 103, HORNETS 94: Jason Kidd scored 25 of his 29 points in the second half to rally visiting Phoenix closer to a playoff berth.

The Hornets blew a 20-point lead, their second collapse in three home games. Asked why he thought the Hornets can't close out teams, coach Paul Silas screamed: " 'Cause we're soft as tissue paper!"

HEAT 86, WIZARDS 84: Alonzo Mourning had his best game since returning from a kidney disease, 16 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes for visiting Miami. It was Mourning's fifth game back.

WOLVES 83, TRAIL BLAZERS 79: Felipe Lopez hit a three-pointer from the left corner to give host Minnesota an 81-79 lead with 50 seconds remaining.

MAGIC: The team would pay $10.5-million in cash up front for a new $250-million arena under a funding proposal team officials presented. It would pay another $39.5-million after the arena is built. Other financing would come from Orange County's tourist tax, the city and the state. County government leaders assailed the team for not paying enough.

MAVERICKS: Wang Zhizhi, 7 feet 1 and 255 pounds, became the first Asian-born player in NBA history when he signed a two-year deal believed to be for the rookie minimum of $316,969 per season.

RULES: Teams will vote April 12 on a package of rules changes, including allowing zone defenses for the first time.

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