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Howard-less Magic host slumping Sixers

Orlando is playoff-bound but coach Stan Van Gundy is preparing for life without Dwight Howard as the Magic get ready to host the slumping Sixers on Monday.

Van Gundy acknowledged that he's preparing to play the rest of the regular season and playoffs without his All-Star center.

Howard missed his fourth straight game with a back injury on Sunday but his teammates clinched a playoff spot anyway with a 100-84 win at Cleveland.

Jameer Nelson finished with 21 points and nine assists in that one while Jason Richardson was 4-of-7 from three-point range en route to 16 points.

J.J. Redick and Earl Clark added 13 points apiece for the Magic, who snapped a brief two-game skid and moved into a tie for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, which lost to Toronto on Sunday. Daniel Orton added 11 points in the victory for Orlando.

"Everybody that played contributed. It was a really, really, really good win for us," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy.

Howard has been diagnosed with a herniated disk and is scheduled to rest the injury for 10 days before he is evaluated again but Van Gundy said before Sunday's game that he would consider it a bonus if Howard or forward Hedo Turkoglu, who is sidelined with a facial fracture, return at all.

"We're approaching it that the 13 guys we have now are who we're going to have the rest of the season and in the playoffs," Van Gundy said.

Orlando suffered another injury during the game, however, when Glen Davis left with a sprained right knee. The big man is scheduled to undergo further examination and his status is currently unknown.

The Sixers, meanwhile, are fighting for their playoff lives after another stinker on Friday, losing to the New Jersey Nets in Philly, 95-89.

The Sixers, in a battle for one of the last spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs, had a two-game winning streak snapped after letting the Nets close the game on a 10-4 run.

Jrue Holiday scored 19 points, Evan Turner had 18 and Thaddeus Young chipped in 13 in the loss.

The back-breaker came with 1:41 remaining when Gerald Green buried a three- pointer off a Sixers turnover to give the Nets a 90-85 lead.

"I'm at a loss, I didn't see that coming," Sixers coach Doug Collins said of the devastating defeat. "We had such a good spirit the last two games."

Philadelphia is currently the No. 7 seed in the East, one-half game ahead of New York and 2 1/2 clear of Milwaukee with seven games to play.

The Magic have dominated the Sixers in recent years, winning 17 of the last 20 in the series.

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