In need of a win, the Orlando Magic welcomed the Philadelphia 76ers to the Amway Center for their final meeting of the season. The Magic crumbled in the second half, but were able to hold on against the Sixers, 116-130 in a high scoring affair.
After playing in a high paced, high scoring contest against the Sixers on Tuesday, the Magic came out strong early, showing an increased energy level after their poor performance Friday in New York. With Evan Fournier out due to a sore wrist, the Magic turned to Mario Hezonja to start at small forward and were rewarded early. Despite picking up two early fouls, Hezonja, along with Aaron Gordon, got the Magic going early, scoring 14 of the teams first 18 points. Despite playing some poor defense at times, the Magic's offense bailed them out, scoring a season high 40 first quarter points en route to a 14 point lead, 40-26.
Holding a double digit lead heading into the second, the Magic took an even firmer stronghold on the game, pushing their lead up to as many as 29. Behind continued hot shooting -- the team shot 15-of-22 in the quarter, and 65.2 percent overall for the first half -- the Magic took any life the Sixers may have had out of them. After giving up 55 percent shooting in the first quarter, Orlando's defense tightened up, holding the Sixers under 50 percent for the quarter, while limiting them to just eight points in the paint after giving up 18 in the first quarter. At the half, the Magic had accumulated their most points in a single half this season (77), leading the visitors, 77-51.
Out of halftime, things began going downhill for the Magic. After holding their lead around 26 for the first half of the quarter, Orlando began falling asleep on the defensive end, giving up easy bucket after easy bucket to the suddenly surging Sixers. After going up by 29 with 6:25 remaining in the quarter, the Magic gave up a 21-7 run, allowing the Sixers to cut their lead down to 15 after three. Despite still shooting nearly 60 percent for the game, Orlando's defensive struggles saw them go into the fourth clinging to a 15 point lead, 102-87.
Following their struggles in the second half of the third, the Magic continued to struggle in the fourth. Orlando's defense continued to falter, allowing the Sixers to pull within eight late in the quarter. Unlike the first half, Orlando's offense was unable to bail out their defense, with the team turning the ball over on many trips. Despite their horrid play, the Magic were able to hang on for a needed victory.
Seven Magic players finished in double figures, led by Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic's 28. Aaron Gordon notched a new career-high with 22, with Mario Hezonja adding 13 in his first start. Big men Jason Smith and Ersan Ilyasova each added 12 and 10 off the Magic bench respectively. Elfrid Payton added 11 points and 10 assists on the night as well.
Phildaelphia was led by Jahlil Okafor's 26. Sharpshooter Isaiah Canaan added 18, with Ish Smith finishing with 17. Robert Covington finished the night with 14, while Jerami Grant scored 13 off the bench. Richaun Holmes added 12, with Nerlens Noel rounding out their group with 10.