In a bizarre game with some mind-bending stats, the Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 95-85, behind Ryan Anderson's 18-point, 14-rebound effort off the bench. The result clinched the seventh seed in the East for Philadelphia, which played without high-scoring reserve guard Lou Williams and franchise swingman Andre Iguodala.
Orlando scored 30 points in the first period on 6-of-7 shooting from three-point range, and may have taken a run at a 40-point quarter were it not for a string of inexplicable turnovers. Chester, PA native Jameer Nelson, who distributed tickets to 400 family, friends, and youth organizations, shot 3-of-3 on threes in the period, getting his team off to a hot start.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
Even stranger, Orlando held a 17-2 rebound advantage in the first period, an edge which at one point reached even more comedic proportions at 25-2 in the early stages of the second quarter. If the Sixers could simply have grabbed a rebound early in the game, they might have pulled out this victory. As it is, their second unit helped them keep it competitive in the second period, and for stretches of the fourth, against the Magic's depleted bench.
And that last point is why I don't want to take too much from this game. With Gilbert Arenas, J.J. Redick, and Quentin Richardson unavailable, Orlando had to play some truly goofy lineups. How does a backcourt featuring Nelson at the point and Chris Duhon at the off-guard sound to you? How about Hedo Turkoglu at shooting guard, with Earl Clark, Anderson, and Bass up front? We may never see these groups again, which is probably for the best.
Though Dwight Howard didn't have one of his better offensive games (19 points on just 6-of-13 shooting), he nonetheless filled the highlight reels with three of his better dunks of the season, including this monstrous fastbreak throwdown against Jrue Holiday. The Sixers point guard had his back to Howard the whole play, and Howard banged hard on him with one hand thanks to a lob from Nelson.
Turnovers killed the Magic early, as they committed 12 in the first half; they managed to get their offense a bit more under control in the second, which is to be commended, especially against a team as active and athletic as Philadelphia. I shudder to think of what Iguodala may have been able to do had he been healthy enough to disrupt Orlando's offense tonight.
The other sore spot for Orlando? Defending Elton Brand, who scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead Philadelphia. Brand's a lethal jump-shooter, and as is usually the case against the Magic, Orlando's defense didn't do much to a) bump him off his preferred spots at the elbows and baselines or b) discourage the Sixers from passing to him. Fortunately, Brand proved to be the only Sixer capable of filling it up reliably tonight; Holiday scored 15 points on 16 shots, while Andres Nocioni scored only 2 of his 13 after halftime.