Magic thump Celtics

The Orlando Magic overpowered a weary Boston Celtics 117-96 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu drives around the Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce during the second half of the third match of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.
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ORLANDO // The Orlando Magic overpowered a weary Boston Celtics side 117-96 last night to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series. Rashard Lewis scored a game-high 28 points and Hedo Turkoglu shoots 24 to help the Magic put away the NBA champions. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points, after a paltry three-point return in game two. Orlando, who squandered a 28-point lead in game one before closing out a 95-90 nail-biter, held firm as Boston made a late charge to cut a 20-point deficit to trail 83-75 with 10 minutes 15 seconds left on the clock.

The Magic stepped up a gear, however, to put the result beyond doubt with an offensive run that left them leading 109-87 with three minutes remaining. Dwight Howard more than covered for the loss of suspended point guard Rafer Alston, shooting 17, and making 14 rebounds and five blocks for the Magic. Anthony Johnson chipped in with 13 points. The teams head to Orlando for game four tomorrow.

Kobe Bryant grabbed 33 points as the Los Angeles Lakers secured a 108-94 victory over the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference play-off series. Lamar Odom scored 16 points and 13 rebounds while Jordan Farmar, in the side for the suspended Derek Fisher, contributed with 12 points and seven assists. Houston's Ron Artest was ejected towards the end following a bad foul on Pau Gasol as the Lakers brought an end to the Rockets' nine-game unbeaten run at home. The game was still anyone's at half-time with Los Angeles leading by just two but the Lakers took control after that as the Rockets struggled. Houston's cause was not helped with Yao Ming struggling with a sore ankle. The Chinese star finished with 19 points while Artest had 25. *Agencies