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Loss to Magic leaves 76ers coach Doug Collins wondering what might have been

Two key contributors to Orlando's win against Doug Collins' 76ers on Thursday used to play for Philly.

Doug Collins
Doug Collins
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Following his team's 98-84 home loss to the woeful Orlando Magic on Tuesday, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins showed his frustration in a memorable news conference. The Sixers' official website has video of the entire presser, wherein Collins openly questioned his players' effort and wondered why Philly fans would taunt him instead of his players. "You didn't yell at me when I played," Collins said. "Why are you yelling at me when I'm coaching?"

It's easy to understand Collins' frustration. His team just lost to the Magic, who had lost five straight before routing the Sixers by 14 points, and who have the league's second-worst record overall. Orlando simply outworked Philadelphia, outscoring it by a 40-26 margin in the paint and outrebounding Collins' team by a 45-37 margin.

But Orlando also has two former Sixers whose contributions on Tuesday must have rankled the 61-year-old Collins. Orlando acquired center Nikola Vučević and small forward Maurice Harkless from the Sixers in August as part of the four-team trade in which Orlando sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to losing those prospects, Philly sent Andre Iguodala, an All-Star swingman, to the Denver Nuggets, receiving Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum.

Vučević tallied 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds in Tuesday's win, while Harkless contributed 10 points and four rebounds. Bynum has yet to play in 2012/13 and looked, in Collins' own estimation, unimpressive when he joined the team for practice on Friday. "He looked like a guy who had not played in nine months," Collins said then. Further, Jason Richardson, the Magic swingman whom the Sixers obtained from Orlando in the August trade, is out for the season with a knee injury.

"We made a huge deal. And we have nobody playing as part of that deal. How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vučević, and have nothing in return playing?" Collins said. "That's tough to overcome, right? That's just the facts. I'm not looking for any out. But that's the facts."

The Sixers' loss is Orlando's gain. Vučević, the league's third-leading rebounder, has two cheap seasons remaining on his rookie deal, while Philly has committed nearly $20 million to the mediocre duo of Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, both of whom Collins played ahead of Vučević in the 2012 Playoffs, over the same span, according to Harkless, for his part, has carved out a role for himself in February, posting per-game averages of 11.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 2.3 combined steals and blocks in 12 starts.

Even after Tuesday's win, the 76ers have a seven-game edge over Orlando in the standings, and, in Jrue Holiday, boast one All-Star to the Magic's zero. But it's fair to ask which club is best suited for long-term success.

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