Chuck Daly doesn't know where his Orlando Magic would be without Darrell Armstrong, and Monday night was a prime example why.
Armstrong stole an inbounds pass with 3.3 seconds remaining and dribbled half the length of the court for a layup that gave Orlando a 74-73 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Darrell Armstrong's heart is bigger than his chest," Daly said of the 6-foot-1 backup guard who has been one of the keys to Orlando's 16-7 start.
"He had to play the most minutes he's had to play all year (36) and I could hardly take him out. He ought to be a candidate for sixth man of the year. I've said it before, but I really don't know where we'd be without him."
George Lynch, who had 20 rebounds and scored eight fourth-quarter points to put the 76ers in position to win, turned the ball over after Theo Ratliff had blocked a layup by Ike Austin that could have put Orlando ahead.
Instead of calling for a 20-second timeout when he couldn't find anyone open at the end, Lynch tried to force the inbounds to pass into a crowd that included teammates Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow.
"I didn't really know how much time I had," Armstrong said. "Te biggest thing was that the ball rolled down toward our goal and I just picked it up and went. I don't know if we got a little home-cooked meal over there with the clock or what, but we'll take it."
Lynch called the final seconds of the game "a learning experience."
"I knew better and should have called a 20-second (timeout) ... I saw that no one was really open. It was tight. I just tried to force it in there. It cost us the game."
| Nick Anderson helps keep Orlando Magical at home. (AP)|
Matt Geiger led Philadelphia with 18 points. Ratliff had 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocks, while Iverson was held to 14 -- half his NBA-leading average -- on 5-for-21 shooting.
"I don't think anybody holds him," Daly said of Iverson. "I think he had an unfortunate night shooting. He had some good looks and made some big shots, but we made him work at it."
The Magic overcame a five-point deficit in the last 1:09. Iverson's jumper put Philadelphia up 73-68 before Hardaway made a 3-pointer and Austin hit a free throw to trim Orlando's deficit to one.
"We acted like we were not supposed to win. We kept turning it over and turning it over and turning it over," 76ers coach Larry Brown said. "It should not have come down to that. That's the sad thing. We completely dominated that game."
Orlando fell behind 15-4 but only trailed 42-37 at the half despite shooting 31 percent. Iverson was just 1-for-10 up to that point, and the 76ers shot only 36 percent as a team.
The Magic's offensive woes continued in the third quarter, yet Philadelphia couldn't pull away. A 9-0 spurt put the 76ers up 57-46, but Orlando scored the last eight points of the period to trail by three going into the last quarter.
- With Bo Outlaw out with a bruised left calf, rookie Matt Harpring made his second start for Orlando.
- The 76ers are one of three teams that have used the same starting lineup for every game. Indiana and Sacramento are the others
- Anderson jammed his left finger in the second quarter. X-rays taken at halftime were negative and he played in the second half.
- The 76ers have outrebunded opponents in 18 of 21 games. They had a 58-48 edge Monday night.
- B.J. Armstrong, signed by Orlando on Sunday, dressed but did not play.
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