Brace yourselves for a lot of the “See, I told you being 4-0 didn’t mean anything!” type of hate.
Yes, it’s true, the Orlando Magic will not go undefeated this season.
That became painfully apparent very early on Thursday against the Sixers as the Magic closed out 2020 with a complete and total dud. What was already a challenging test for the 4-0 Magic became more difficult when the Magic learned they would be without Terrence Ross. And then even more difficult when Evan Fournier exited in the first quarter because of back spasms.
So, the Magic looked less like the only unbeaten team in the NBA and more like a bad shooting team that was playing without its top two shooters.
The Magic struggled getting quality looks early on, shooting just 30.4 percent in the first quarter. Nikola Vucevic was the lone exception, scoring 7 points on 3 of 5 shooting, including the Magic’s lone three-point make in the quarter. The Sixers, meanwhile, led by Joel Embiid (12 points) and Seth Curry (10 points) shot 52 percent in the quarter, hitting 6 of 10 attempts from deep to open a very quick 21-point lead. The Magic scored the final five points of the quarter to pull within 38-22 after the first.
Things only got worse in the second as the Magic continued to force plenty of shots and make none, being held to just five points over the opening seven minutes of the quarter, allowing the Sixers’ lead to take a 30-plus point lead. It topped out at 72-35 after a layup by Tobias Harris with just over one minute remaining in the half. The Magic, after shooting 28.6 percent in the half, including just 3 of 17 from three (17.6 percent), and after allowing the Sixers to shoot 56.3 percent, including 10 of 17 from three (58.8%), entered the break trailing, 75-40.
Not much changed in the second half, outside of injury being added to insult as Chuma Okeke hobbled off the court in the fourth quarter.
No specifics on Chuma Okeke's injury, but the injury was to his left leg and he will be evaluated, according to a team official.— Roy Parry (@osroyparry) January 1, 2021
Vucevic finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Cole Anthony added 16 points on 5-for-18 shooting, as the Magic overall shot 34.7 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from three (7-for-28). Markelle Fultz had a quiet night against his former team, with 9 points (4-for-11) and four assists. Aaron Gordon was even quieter, scoring six points on 1-for-8 shooting, some of which were rather questionable attempts.
Embiid and Curry each had 21 to lead the Sixers. Philly made 15 of 33 threes, including one each courtesy of Ben Simmons and Dwight Howard. Yes, Ben Simmons and Dwight Howard. A fitting end to 2020.
The doubters who belittled the Magic’s 4-0 start to the season will be out in full force after this one. The good news? The Magic still head into 2021 with the best record in the NBA!
They are back in action on Saturday when they take on the Thunder in the second game of a four-game homestand.