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Magic rally in the fourth, downing the 76ers in overtime, 112-109

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The Magic finally played defense late, and it was just barely enough to get the win.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these two teams played, the Magic were in an uncomfortably close situation down the stretch in the Amway Center, and the Sixers ultimately came out on top thanks to a clutch T.J. McConnell layup. They found themselves in a similar situation on Monday night, but they were just barely able to hold on at the end, winning 112-109 in overtime. Nikola Vucevic lead all scorers with 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Elfrid Payton notched his own points-rebounds double-double with 10 and 13. Richaun Holmes and Robert Covington each led Philadelphia with 24 points. The victory marked the first consecutive wins for the Orlando Magic since late December.

The Magic’s first quarter got off to a rocky start thanks to Elfrid Payton picking up 3 fouls in his first 7 minutes, forcing him out for the rest of the half. Still, the Magic were able to keep things afloat offensively, shooting 52.4% in the quarter, most of that coming in the paint or at the line, a combined 17 of their 25 points. Unfortunately, the Sixers were able to attack the Magic the same way, getting 19 of their 26 in the paint or at the line, setting the tone for what would be an ineffective Magic defense throughout the night. Vucevic was the high scorer early on, getting 10 on 5-7 shooting, along with 5 rebounds.

The same sad story repeated itself in the second, as the Magic’s bench found almost no traction offensively, scoring 8 points in their 8 minutes together before the starters began filtering back in (though the starters would not fare much better at the end of the half). Overall, the Magic were 0/6 in the first half from beyond the arc, an embarrassingly low number of both makes and attempts for a team that purports to play “small ball.” Meanwhile, the Sixers kept their offense rolling from the first quarter, led by Holmes with 18 at the half, who went totally uncontested at the rim several times, including a wide-open lob without a defender within 10 feet. The Magic found themselves in a big hole at halftime, 56-41.

The comeback effort would start in the third quarter, but slowly, thanks to their continually flimsy defense. Instead of cutting into the lead, they traded shots back and forth (many from Vucevic, who would score 10 in the quarter). Payton finally returned to the game, and he played with the energy of someone who, well, only played 7 minutes the first half. He made things difficult for the Sixers, and that defensive energy rubbed off on the rest of the roster, who finally started locking things down near the end of the third. It also helped that they started hitting 3s, making 3-8 in the third.

The fourth was when the Magic finally played some defense, and appropriately it was when they finally retook the lead with just a few minutes to go. They even managed to foul out Dario Saric, setting themselves up to have a big advantage in the closing minutes. Instead, it was a tight, back-and-forth affair. With 20 seconds left, the game tied at 98, the Magic had a chance to take the last shot for the win. Instead, they turned the ball over trying to pass it to Vucevic. The Sixers didn’t fare much better on their attempt, as Payton ripped the ball away from Justin Anderson to end the fourth, sending the game to overtime.

Aaron Gordon fouled out of the game near the end of the fourth, so Jodie Meeks started in his place in overtime. It was a slow-going affair for both teams, but the Magic took a 101-98 advantage with 2:40 left, holding the Sixers scoreless until Holmes hit a 3-pointer with 2 minutes to go, tying the game. Fournier came right back with an and-1, and Robert Covington hit another 3-pointer to tie it again. The Magic were finally able to take the lead on a Terrence Ross jumper, and hit all their free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.