Originally created 03/03/00

Reserves help lift Magic past Hornets



ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ron Mercer scored a team-high 19 points and the Orlando Magic got strong play from their reserves in a 104-96 victory over the Charlotte Hornets Thursday night.

Chucky Atkins led Orlando's reserves with 14 points, while Pat Garrity added 13, Monty Williams 10 and Corey Maggette nine. The four combined to shoot 20-for-32 from the field.

Darrell Armstrong had 13 points and Bo Outlaw contributed nine points and 10 rebounds to help pace Orlando.

Elden Campbell had 22 points, and David Wesley and Eddie Jones each had 17 for Charlotte, which has lost six of its last nine.

The Magic never trailed in the second half and Charlotte could get no closer than five points, when it trailed 99-94 with 2:21 remaining.

Heat --101
SuperSonics -- 83

MIAMI -- Jamal Mashburn scored 29 points as Miami ended a six-year drought against Seattle.

The Heat, who played their third straight game without injured center Alonzo Mourning, beat the SuperSonics for the first time since Feb. 17, 1994. The Sonics had won nine straight games against the Heat, part of a 20-4 all-time lead in the series.

With Mourning out with a sore left ankle, the Heat turned to Mashburn, who was 13-of-20 from the field and added six rebounds as Miami won its 10th straight home game, third-best in franchise history.

Tim Hardaway added 18 points and eight assists, and P.J. Brown scored 14 for Miami. Mark Strickland and Clarence Weatherspoon each scored 13 points.

Ruben Patterson scored 24 points for Seattle, Vin Baker 23 and Gary Payton 20.

Knicks -- 109
Bucks -- 94

NEW YORK -- Latrell Sprewell scored 18 of his season-high tying 32 points during a third-quarter outburst in which Chris Childs also was unstoppable, leading New York past Milwaukee.

Sprewell shot 8-for-9 and Childs scored all 13 of his points in the third quarter as the Knicks were 15-for-20 and outscored the Bucks 36-17 to turn a six-point halftime deficit into a 13-point lead.

Sprewell tied his season high on a jumper with 8:20 left for a 95-78 lead, then left for good with just under seven minutes left. Allan Houston added 24 points for the Knicks, who completed a sweep of the four-game season series against the Bucks.

The Knicks improved to 5-1 when Sprewell scores 30 or more points and 12-1 when the team scores 100 or more.

Tim Thomas scored a season-high 26 points and Ray Allen had 25 to lead the struggling Bucks, who lost for the ninth time in 11 games to drop two games below .500. Glenn Robinson shot just 3-for-12 for eight points, while Sam Cassell was 2-for-10 from the field for eight points.

76ers -- 87
Wizards -- 84

WASHINGTON -- Allen Iverson actually played like someone with a shoulder injury. His 64-game streak of double-figure scoring came to an end, leaving Toni Kukoc to lead Philadelphia to a come-from-behind victory.

Kukoc had 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists off the bench, his best game since he was traded by Chicago on Feb. 16, while Iverson had just five points on 2-for-18 shooting.

Iverson did make his presence felt on the defensive end, however, blocking Chris Whitney's potential game-winning 3-point attempt with less than five seconds to play.

Mitch Richmond had 16 points for the Wizards, who beat the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night and were seeking only their third winning streak of the season.

Nets -- 103
Mavericks -- 102

DALLAS -- Keith Van Horn's 15-foot buzzer-beater lifted New Jersey to past Dallas.

Trailing 102-101, the Nets forced a turnover when Van Horn flicked the ball away from Erick Strickland and New Jersey's Scott Burrell took possession with 5.3 seconds left. Dallas had a foul to give and Strickland took it, fouling Stephon Marbury with 2.2 seconds left. Van Horn took the inbounds pass and, with Dennis Rodman defending, nailed a jumper from the free throw line as time expired.

STARKS WANTS FREEDOM:

John Starks to the Knicks? John Starks to the Heat? Either could happen by the end of the weekend.

An arbitrator will hear arguments today on whether Starks can forfeit the remainder of his salary and be released by the Chicago Bulls so he can become a free agent and join a playoff contender for the rest of the season.

Starks, who was traded from Golden State to Chicago last month, has offered to give up the remainder of his $4 million salary for this season if the Bulls agree to release him. He then would be free to sign with any team.

Players released after 11:59 p.m. on March 1 who then sign with another team are not eligible to compete in the playoffs, but Starks is seeking to have his release made retroactive to Wednesday night so he can compete in the postseason.

Arbitrator Kenneth Dam will hear the case by conference call this afternoon. A decision is expected no later than Saturday.

If Starks wins, both the New York Knicks and Miami Heat would be interested in adding him, several league sources said.