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Sixers 116, Magic 115: Magic nearly stun 76ers in a wild heartbreaker

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Triple-double for Vooch, big game from Fournier, half-court shot by Ross, but still not enough

NBA: Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic nearly had a heart-stopping come-from-behind victory in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Following Aaron Gordon’s miss on his second attempt at the free throw line that would have tied the game with six seconds remaining, the Magic won a jump ball following a scrum for the rebound, and Terrence Ross’ three-point winning attempt harmlessly air-balled below the rim.

The Magic took the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter behind a thrilling half-court shot by Ross as the shot clock expired with 1:24 remaining for a 112-110 lead.

It took every one of Philadelphia’s record-setting 17 three-pointers, and the heroics of JJ Redick, who gave the 76ers the lead for good on his game-clinching eighth three-pointer with 17 seconds left for a 116-114 lead. He would end the Magic’s hopes of a victory with his 31 points off the bench in a game that saw very little of Ben Simmons, who exited early with a tight back.

”We should’ve won the game,” Steve Clifford said. “Two huge mistakes at the end of the game on the road against a good team. The game was there to be won, there were plays to be made, you got to make them.”

The Orlando Magic came out hot in a shocking twist of events after a dreadful performance just one night before at home against the Charlotte Hornets. After scoring but seven points in the second quarter a night before, the Magic scored 32 in the first quarter on Saturday night, including a 9-0 run largely attributed to the hustle and second-chance opportunities and defense of Gordon.

The Magic would continue the advantage with some hot shooting from Evan Fournier, who bounced back in a big way in the first half. Fournier would hit four of his first seven three-pointers and finish the half with 17 points.

The Magic did it on both ends, as Gordon collected a pair of rejections, and Nikola Vucevic and DJ Augustin stymied Joel Embiid and Robert Covington on the perimeter in a two-man switching sequence.

The Magic would increase their lead to an impressive 26-10, and fortune would turn her sweet gaze toward the Magic, as Simmons exited the game due to back tightness.

Vucevic flirted with a triple-double early and knocked down his first three-point attempt in an overall impressive opening stanza.

But things would shift quickly with the arrival of former Magic star swingman. Redick was electric from the start, pouring in five of his first six shots from three for 15 points in the first half. Fultz and Simmons struggled from the field going 4/11, but with Redick, TJ McConnel, Landry Shamet, Amir Johnson, and Dario Saric managed a 27-6 run, and 42-15 overall.

Ross and Mo Bamba would momentarily stop the bleeding with a five-point run culminated by a monstrous dunk from the Magic’s sixth overall pick.

But the biggest story from the second quarter was the lack of scoring from the Orlando Magic. Though the Magic would bring the contest close at 63-52, the Magic scored but eight points in the opening eight minutes of the said quarter.

Joel Embiid was the stud of the group, collecting 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting, with six rebounds.

The Magic came out of the tunnel swinging in the second half, with a 10-2 run by Gordon and Vucevic. The third quarter slugfest would continue and culminated in a 12-2 run to bring the game within one point, 82-81, behind the aggressive defense from Augustin, and the three-point shooting of Vucevic, who would finish the game with his second triple-double, 27/13/12 and commendable defense on Embiid.

A Fournier runner brought the game to but 89-86 to end the third, ending a 34-26 third quarter victory for the Magic.

Isaiah Briscoe checked in to start the fourth after a forgettable performance from Jerian Grant in the second quarter. In two successive sequences, he threw away a possession and dribbled out the ensuing shot clock. He would spell Grant, who was a horrid -19 in seven minutes in the second quarter. The Magic must get more from their bench at the position to mitigate the breaks by Augustin, who performed well en route to nine points, nine assists and a +23 in 35 minutes.

But it wasn’t enough. After trailing 108-97, the Magic led a 15-2 run headlined by Vucevic, Gordon and Fournier and his 31 points on 12 of 23 shooting.

The Magic nearly looked to steal the game, as the shot clock wound down and Ross delivered the Magic a 112-110 advantage on THIS;

The Magic fought their hearts out, and Clifford has a lot to build on after this contest on the road against one of the Eastern Conference’s very best teams, and possible MVP candidate, Embiid, who would finish as the game’s leading scorer with 32 points.

Next up, the Magic head to Boston to face the Celtics on Monday night.

Notes:

The battle between friends, Joel Embiid and Mo Bamba continued in this contest. After an early dunk over Bamba in the first, Bamba answered in the fourth, with a swipe of Embiid that led to a corner three-point shot.