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Magic masters Pistons again

Darrell Armstrong had 22 points, 14 assists and 7 rebounds, and Tracy McGrady scored 26 points as the Magic defeated the Detroit Pistons 102-96 Thursday night.

Detroit, which lost for the 14th time in its past 15 games in Orlando, got within 97-94 on a three-pointer by former Magic guard Chucky Atkins with 21.4 seconds left. But on Orlando's next possession Armstrong hit two free throws with 16.2 seconds remaining.

Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse had 34 points, hitting 12 of 26 shots from the field and 7 of 11 free throws. Ben Wallace had 19 rebounds and six points, but made only 2 of 10 free throws. The Pistons were 24-of-42 (57.1 percent) from the line.

Atkins finished with 16 points, but hit only 5 of 14 shots. Dana Barros had 11 points and Joe Smith and Mateen Cleaves 10 apiece for the Pistons.

Reserve Monty Williams scored 15 points, including six at the start of the fourth quarter to put Orlando ahead 86-76.

Armstrong's three-pointer with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter gave Orlando its biggest lead at 70-60. Cleaves made consecutive field goals in the final 59.5 seconds to close the Magic's lead to 78-72.

WIZARDS: Point guard Rod Strickland was suspended for one game after missing his second practice this week, and did not accompany the team to Miami for tonight's game.

Strickland, who also was fined, missed practice Tuesday and Thursday. Coach Leonard Hamilton said Strickland was not excused from the practice and that he did not know why the veteran did not attend.

Strickland overslept and missed practice Tuesday. He didn't help matters when he showed up after the workout and reiterated, on the eve of a game against the Knicks, that he "would love to play in New York."

Strickland didn't start against the Knicks, played only 18 minutes and was miffed at what he suspected was management's way of punishing him for past transgressions.

JAZZ: Starting guard John Starks was suspended for Thursday night's game against Portland for violating undisclosed team policies. A team spokesman said Starks would return for tonight's game at Golden State. The suspension will cost Starks about $25,000 based on his $2.25-million salary this season.

NETS: Guard Kendall Gill will be out indefinitely with tendinitis in his right knee. A 10-year pro, Gill is averaging 9.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.57 steals playing 29.4 minutes.

SIXERS: Allen Iverson, expected to be out one to three weeks with a dislocated right shoulder, was back in Philadelphia's starting lineup on Wednesday night, just five days after being injured.

Iverson scored 29 points in 41 minutes in the Sixers' 118-110 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Late in the game, he shouted "Shut up!" at hecklers who intimated his injury hadn't been as serious as thought.

"I really, really wanted to play," Iverson said. "I felt like I wasn't going to hurt myself any more than I already was."