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Nuggets find means, stop Shaq and Magic

The Denver Nuggets were just hoping to slow Shaquille O'Neal on Friday night. They did, and they won.

Reggie Williams scored all of his 20 points in the last 20 minutes, including six during a 12-3 run that closed host Denver's 98-89 victory over the Orlando Magic.

O'Neal, who entered the game as the league's leading scorer, averaging 28.8 points, had 22, but shot just 9-for-23 from the field.

San Antonio center David Robinson had 41 points against the Clippers on Friday night and now leads O'Neal, 28.8 to 28.7.

"Dikembe Mutombo did an outstanding job on Shaq," Denver coach Dan Issel said. "Robert Pack up-tempoed the game. I thought if we could run we could control the game."

The Magic led 50-39 with 8:40 left in the third period, as Williams and teammates LaPhonso Ellis and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf were shooting a collective 3-for-23 from the field.

Williams ignited the comeback with a 20-foot jumper and went on to score 12 points in the third period, leading a 31-16 run that gave the Nuggets a 70-66 lead.

The last of seven ties in the game came on a jumper by Williams, making the score 86-86 with 3:33 remaining. The Nuggets outscored the Magic 12-3 the rest of the way.

Williams thought the four-day layoff hurt the Nuggets.

"We were a little tight early because we hadn't played in a while," he said. "You can't re-create in practice the adrenaline and the high you get from playing a game.

"You cannot stop Shaquille 1-on-1, and I thought Dikembe and the team did a really good job on him."

Mutombo, in addition to his defensive work against O'Neal, had nine points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots for Denver.

Anfernee Hardaway had 23 points for the Magic.

The Nuggets, who shot only 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, hit 23 of 42 shots in the second half to finish with 41.7 percent. Orlando finished with 36.3 percent.



Boston slump ends: It was appropriate the Celtics ended their franchise-record losing streak while playing the Lakers. When Boston won at home Friday night, it set off a playoff-like celebration. The Celtics rode Dino Radja's career highs of 36 points and 15 rebounds to stop their slide at 13 with a 109-99 defeat of Los Angeles. The Celtics and their fans loudly cheered as the game wound down.

Shirley funeral: Surrounded by memorabilia of more than 50 years in basketball, dozens of coaches, officials and friends paid tribute Saturday in Washington to J. Dallas Shirley, one of the NBA's original referees and a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Shirley, who died Tuesday at the age of 80, was remembered as a man who loved basketball and helping people. "He made all of us better players and coaches," said Morgan Wootten, head coach at DeMatha High School, in nearby Hyattsville, Md. Shirley officiated more than 2,000 games during a 37-year career.