The Orlando Magic were determined to cover Allen Iverson with one defender, a strategy that didn't stop the defending NBA champion but did derail the Philadelphia 76ers.
Iverson shrugged off a slow start to score a season-high 46 points Wednesday night, but the Magic contained Philadelphia's other starters to beat the 76ers 110-105 behind 25 points by Pat Garrity and 20 by Darrell Armstrong.
Garrity came off the bench to make 10 of 11 shots and John Amaechi scored five of his 13 points in the final minute to help the surprising Magic improve to 4-2 with their third straight victory.
Iverson made nine straight shots during one stretch and scored 36 in the second half, including 22 in the third quarter when he made all eight of his shots and was 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts.
His strong third quarter lifted Philadelphia to 76-73 lead. But the 76ers, who are 1-0 at home but 0-4 on the road, never took control of the game.
"He played great, gave us a chance to win," 76ers coach Larry Brown said, describing Iverson's performance as "phenomenal."
Monty Williams gave the Magic the lead for good at 90-89, beginning a 15-6 spurt that allowed Orlando to go up 103-95 with just under three minutes to go.
The closest Philadelphia got down the stretch was three points before Amaechi scored on a putback and a 3-pointer for Orlando's last five points. Iverson finished 18-of-33 from the field, and his point total was four shy of his career high.
"I think that is the hotest I have ever been in my career," Iverson said, though the performance had a hollow feel because the 76ers lost yet another game in which he was virtually unstoppable.
"Every time I score 40, the same thing happens. So I would rather keep it under 40. I was just playing basketball. My teammates knew I was hot and just kept giving me the ball. Every team does that when a guy gets hot."
Armstrong got in foul trouble and his backup, Chucky Atkins, fouled out trying to guard Iverson. The Magic also used the 6-foot-8 Williams to try to slow the 6-foot Iverson, to no avail. When Armstrong returned in the fourth quarter, Rivers finally resorted to trapping the scoring champion.
"Just having two point guards, we couldn't afford to have Armstrong foul out," Rivers said. "We only did it to try to protect him."
Iverson missed seven of his first eight shots and was 5-of-15 in the first half, yet the 76ers were able to wipe out an early 12-point deficit and build a double-digit lead of their own.
The Magic led 18-6 before being outscored 35-13 over a 13-minute stretch to fall behind 41-31. Iverson had four points during the surge and added two more baskets in the last five minutes of the second quarter to finish the half with 10 points.
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