Playing their fourth game in five nights, and fifth in seven, the Orlando Magic finished up their tough opening stretch in Philadelphia with a matchup against the 76ers. Despite confusion from late game officiating, the Magic were able to grind out another victory, topping the Sixers 105-97.
Coming off a tough, gritty victory on Friday night, the Magic were sluggish to start, falling behind by nine in the early moments of the game. However, after the Sixers removed rookie Jahlil Okafor, who was having his way with anyone the Magic threw at him, things went south and fast. The Magic turned up their defensive intensity, forcing the Sixers to miss their final 12 shots of the quarter, allowing the visitors to charge into the lead.
After pushing their lead to as many as 10 early in the second quarter, the wheels once again began falling off for the Magic. After Tobias Harris fouled Hollis Thompson on a three-pointer -- Thompson made only one of three form the line -- the Sixers knocked down a trio of three's, charging back into a brief lead. The stretch prompted a timeout from a heated Scott Skiles, who ripped into his team for their continued poor effort. Despite the stretch, the Magic found some momentum late in the quarter, going on a 15-to-6 run, spearheaded by Dwayne Dedmon, to finish the half with a seven point lead.
Unlike Friday night against the Raptors, the Magic came out energized in the second half, pouncing on the struggling Sixers early. Behind consistent buckets, along with lockdown defense, the Magic pushed their lead up to 15 early in the quarter, making it look as though they had a chance to pull away. However, like the second quarter, Philadelphia answered, going on a 14-to-4 run, cutting the Magic lead down to four. Following the run, a scuffle between Nerlens Noel and Jason Smith broke out, which resulted in Noel's ejection after Smith hit Noel with an elbow, prompting Noel to retaliate.
Early in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia went on another mini run, the Magic lead down to three in the opening minutes. As the quarter wore on, the two seemingly traded basket for basket, with the Magic's lead hovering between two-to-six points for much of the quarter. Looking for someone to come up with big buckets late, the Magic turned to Elfrid Payton, who put together his best game of the young season, cutting up the Sixers defense at every opportunity.
The Magic used an extremely balanced effort, with seven players finishing in double figures, led by Payton's 20, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter. Evan Fournier bounced back from a poor shooting performance on Friday night with 17 on an efficient 7-of-12 from the field. Victor Oladipo scored 14, with Dewayne Dedmon adding a career-high 12. Mario Hezonja tied his season high with 11, while Aaron Gordon and Jason Smith each added 10 off the bench.
Philadelphia's Isaiah Cannon led all scorers, finishing with 23 off the bench. Jahlil Okafor added 19, with Nik Stauskas adding a career-high 18. Jerami Grant rounded out Sixers in double figures, finishing with 11.