Playing without leading scorer Arron Afflalo (illness) and leading assist man Jameer Nelson (sore calf), the Orlando Magic still managed to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-81, on Sunday. The Sixers led by as many as nine points in the contest, but Orlando's energetic second unit came on strong in the waning moments of the third quarter and the start of the fourth to change the tenor of the game.
Tobias Harris scored a career-high 31 to pace the Magic, while Nik Vučević posted 18 points and 17 rebounds against his former club. Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Carter-Williams got Philly off to a strong start by scoring 12 of his 17 points in the first quarter. Thaddeus Young, at 25 the most senior player in this rebuilding team's rotation, scored 27 of his own.
Carter-Williams helped get the Sixers off to a solid start, scoring 12 of their 27 first-quarter points on 5-of-6 shooting. He played under control and selected his shots well, using his size to his advantage coming out of the pick-and-roll.
Orlando, meanwhile, looked rudderless without its top playmaker and leading scorer. Apart from Harris' creating for himself, the Magic couldn't generate offense against arguably the worst team in basketball. Philly took a 46-43 lead into halftime in part because the Magic tallied only five baskets and six turnovers in the second quarter. Harris scored three of those field goals himself.
Not that the Sixers were great guns themselves: the visitors shot 37 percent from the floor and found themselves outrebounded by a 29-25 margin. Three-point shooting separated the two clubs at the break: the Sixers went 4-of-13, while Orlando failed to hit any of its six triples. Philadelphia's poor percentage from deep meant little in this instance; the fact that it had converted any did, given the Magic's goose egg.
Young got busy at the onset of the third quarter, taking four of Philadelphia's first five shots--and making three of them--to stake his club to a five-point lead. The Magic ran their offense through Vučević in the post for much of the third, but didn't make a big push until the end of the quarter, with Vučević on the bench. Victor Oladipo and Kyle O'Quinn each came up with key loose balls to ignite fast breaks as the Magic pulled to within three. That's the same deficit they faced at halftime, but represents a positive development given that Philly led by as much as nine in the third.
Maurice Harkless opened the fourth quarter with a game-tying triple, setting the tone for a successful final period for the home team. An impressive lefty hook from O'Quinn in the paint area gave Orlando an eight-point edge with 7:46 to play, and E'Twaun Moore scored eight points in the frame occupying the role Afflalo normally would. Harris, appropriately, rattled in a crucial jumper to put Orlando up by eight points with 1:47 to go and putting the game out of reach, considering the impotency of the Sixers' offense.
Philadelphia finished the fourth quarter with five field goals--four, if one discounts Young's meaningless bucket at the horn--and five turnovers, a fact which underlines its overall talent level almost as well as an in-depth scouting report would.