The Orlando Magic improved to 15-15 at home Sunday with their 92-81 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. Tobias Harris set a new career-high with 31 points to pace Orlando, which played without key veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo due to injury and illness, respectively. Orlando outscored the visitors by a 26-12 margin in the decisive fourth period.
Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 29 points on 13-of-25 shooting.
Here's a look at the stories that developed Sunday.
Harris continues strong play
With Nelson and Afflalo out of the lineup, Harris had to take on a larger offensive role for Orlando, and he delivered. His raw point total of 31 certainly stands out, but his efficiency bears noting as well: the third-year forward shot 11-of-20 from the foor and 9-of-9 from the foul line, and he committed just one turnover.
"I just play my heart out and whatever happens happens," Harris said. "I just give 100 percent effort for our team. Anything I can do for us to win is what I wanna do."
Harris said he approached the game with an aggressive, attacking mentality. That much was evident early, as he scored eight of Orlando's first 10 points of the game. Harris also recognized that attention center Nik Vučević drew would create scoring opportunities for him.
"They were focusing a lot on Nik tonight so I saw a lot of openings, spacing wise, and I wanted to use that to my advantage," Harris said.
All three of Vučević's assists on the night led to scores for Harris, each resulting from the seven-footer's drawing Harris' defender away from him, Harris finding open space, and then Vučević making the right pass.
Harris set his career-high in scoring by draining a pair of foul shots with 14 seconds to play. The former Volunteer felt prepared to take those shots and, as such, "wasn't sweating" the prospect of missing them. "Before every game I try to make 10 free throws in a row," he said, "just to get my mind going."
Counting Sunday's game, Harris has four performances of 20-plus points in his last six outings. He's averaging 20.8 points on 64.2 percent True Shooting despite connecting on 25 percent of his three-pointers.
Magic rookie Victor Oladipo didn't come up big against Philadelphia, tallying nine points on 3-of-10 shooting with two boards, four assists, and four turnovers in 39 minutes. But he has an explanation for why.
"They did a great job of making sure I didn't have the ball in my hands today," Oladipo said, referring to the Sixers' defense. "I just had to rely a lot on my teammates today." Further compounding the problem, said Oladipo, is that he felt like he was "forcing it" in the first half, looking for opportunities that simply weren't there. "That's what they wanted me to do," he said.
Despite not having the ball as often as he usually does, Oladipo's four assists still led the team. But the Magic's fairly even assist column--five other players dropped at least two dimes--attests to the unselfishness with which it played.
Oladipo spent most of his collegiate career at Indiana playing off the ball, but has dominated it in Orlando as the Magic test his mettle at point guard. Because of Philly's traps on Sunday, he had to revert to his collegiate approach.
"It's just something I have to learn," he said.
The Sixers listed rookie big men Nerlens Noel and Brandon Davies as inactive for Sunday's game, but the pair at least got active in the media workroom: both Noel and Davies stopped by the cafeteria line to partake of some tacos. Noel also availed himself of the soft-serve machine for a bowl of ice cream.
Media and team personnel are usually the only people who use the cafeteria line, given that players have their own spreads in the locker rooms.
A nod to the past
Orlando's halftime entertainment reunited more than 100 Magic Dancers from the team's 25-year history. Groups of Dancers from various periods in the team's history--e.g. 1989-94, 2009-present-- performed for approximately 30 seconds apiece. Following those smaller group routines, all 100-plus of the guest Dancers performed together.