After kicking off their four game home stand with an ugly loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday night, the Orlando Magic returned to action on Sunday to take on the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite having won just two games, the Sixers played hard and took to a depleted, uninspired Magic team, 96-88
Right off the bat, things were much different for the Magic. Coach Jacque Vaughn made a couple of changes to his starting lineup, inserting rookie point guard Elfrid Payton and third year big Kyle O`Quinn, with Channing Frye and Evan Fournier moving to the bench. Despite making changes, the Magic still struggled mightily in the quarter. Their offense had very little flow to it, and while the defense was improved from their dreadful showing on Friday night, they still had trouble stopping the Sixers offense. Despite seven turnovers, Philadelphia shot 50 percent from the field, led by Michael Carter-Williams' 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Moving to the bench didn't slow down Fournier, who led the Magic with six in the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Magic's play began to pick up on both ends of the floor. Their offense found a slightly better rhythm and they began to push the pace some, forcing the Sixers to get back and set their defense quickly. On the defensive end, the Magic continued to force Sixer turnovers, getting them to cough it up four more times. They also had more success defending the rim, thanks to great rotations and strong play from O`Quinn. Carter-Williams' 10 continued to lead the way for the Sixers, while Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo got up to nine points each for the Magic.
Directly out of halftime, the Magic looked good, jumping out to an 11 point lead thanks to a 11-5 run to open the quarter. Then, the dreaded third quarter collapse began to happen. The Magic became sloppy on the offensive end, and didn't get stops on a consistent basis on the defensive end. They began to pass up good looks to overpass and try to find another open look, which slowly caught up with them. Oladipo continued his solid play, jumping up to 15 points through three. Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel continued to show flashes on both ends, scoring five points and grabbing three rebounds in the quarter to get up to a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double through three.
Down just four going into the fourth quarter, the Magic meltdown continued. They played lethargic, uninspired basketball for much of the fourth quarter, letting the Sixer lead balloon to as many as 14. Philadelphia was clearly the team that wanted it more on Sunday night and it final caught up and bit the Magic in the tail.
Even with only nine players available, the Sixers played solid, balanced basketball. Carter-Williams, the defending rookie of the year, led the way for Philadelphia with 21. Noel didn't scored, but added two more rebounds in the fourth quarter, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Henry Sims notched a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double off the bench, while Robert Covington finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Tony Wroten finished with 10 to round out Sixers in double figures.
After a poor game Friday night, Oladipo bounced back with a game high 23 points. Nikola Vucevic notched the 100th double-double of his career, finishing with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Tobias Harris added 17, while Fournier finished with 16 in his first game off the bench.