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Sonics, Pacers triumph in battles of NBA's elite

It was a night for the division leaders in the East and the division leaders in the West to play each other.

Judging by the results, the Indiana Pacers are well ahead of the Miami Heat, and the Seattle SuperSonics are barely better than the San Antonio Spurs.Reggie Miller scored 30 points, and the visiting Pacers built a 22-point lead in the third period before surviving a late rally by Miami for a 110-101 victory Wednesday night.

At San Antonio, Vin Baker hit a 14-foot fadeaway with 1.9 seconds left to complete a late comeback by Seattle as the Sonics beat the Spurs 106-105.

The Central Division-leading Pacers won for the ninth time in 10 games and broke a four-game winning streak by the Heat, who lead the Atlantic Division.

The Heat gave up 100 points for the first time in 12 games and for the first time at home since Dec. 16.

"This was a big game for my guys," Indiana coach Larry Bird said. "They wanted this win badly. I'm pretty pleased with my team right now."

Indiana improved to 16-9 on the road, the best in the Eastern Con-ference.

The Heat trailed 73-51 before rallying. Keith Askins' 3-pointer made it 81-73 with 11 minutes left, and Miami hit four consecutive 3-point attempts - including three by Tim Hardaway - to cut the deficit to 105-101 with 1:22 re-main-ing.

But Antonio Davis scored on a dunk, and two free throws by Jalen Rose clinched the victory for the Pacers.

SUPERSONICS 106, SPURS 105: Seattle erased an 11-point deficit in the final eight minutes and won on Baker's shot over the 7-foot David Robinson.

"I tried to make a move on David. I tried to make every move possible and he stuck with me," Baker said. "So I came back to the middle and got a shot I felt comfortable with. The fact that it went in was just a blessing from God."

Baker led the Sonics with 24 points, Detlef Schrempf scored 21 and Gary Payton 20.

"Seattle is the best team in the league. They're poised and (have) been together a long time. But we'll get better. We're on the right path," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Tim Duncan and Robinson led the Spurs with 26 and 20 points, respectively.

MAGIC 96, TIMBERWOLVES 89: Orlando overcame the distraction of Penny Hardaway trade rumors to win at Minneapolis.

Hardaway's name was being discussed in a three-team trade between the Magic, Toronto and New Jersey. He said he expected to be dealt as soon as Thursday.

"I really don't want to play in New Jersey," he said. "I don't want to go somewhere where I don't want to be."

Nick Anderson scored a season-high 28 points to go with 11 re-bounds.

BULLS 92, HORNETS 90: Michael Jordan scored 29 points, including a spectacular reverse layup with 35 seconds left at Charlotte.

Scottie Pippen added 23 points for the Bulls, who won the season series 3-1.

The Hornets had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Vernon Maxwell's 3-pointer banked off the glass and rim and missed.

PISTONS 95, BUCKS 83: Joe Dumars hit two of his four 3-pointers down the stretch to help Detroit to its second straight triumph under new coach Alvin Gentry.

Grant Hill led the Pistons with 21 points and Jerry Stackhouse scored 16. Glenn Robinson scored 26 and Ray Allen added 24 for the visiting Bucks, who lost for the second straight night.

LAKERS 105, WARRIORS 99: Shaquille O'Neal overcame an upset stomach to score 33 points and grab 10 rebounds - all in the final three quarters.

Nick Van Exel had 19 points and 14 assists and Rick Fox added 15 points for the host Lakers, who won for the 11th time in 15 games.

76ERS 91, MAVERICKS 90: At Philadelphia, Allen Iverson cap-ped his 16-point fourth quarter with the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left as the 76ers came back from a 14-point, fourth quarter deficit and ended a seven-game losing streak.

Michael Finley made a jumper at the buzzer for Dallas, but a referee waved it off despite the fierce protests of Finley and coach Don Nelson.

WIZARDS 110, CLIPPERS 104: At Los Angeles, Rod Strickland had 31 points and 13 assists and Calbert Cheaney scored 22 of his 28 points in the first half as Washington handed the Clippers their 14th loss in 16 games.

The Clippers got a career-high 34 points from Rodney Rogers, 28 points from Lamond Murray and 22 rebounds from Lorenzen Wright.