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Philadelphia 133, Orlando 103: Sixers dominate in the paint, run away from limping Magic

Another night, another short-handed roster that Mosley and his staff had to work with.

Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Oh to wonder, what will this Orlando Magic team look like when they finally get all of their guys back healthy?

Rinse, repeat.

With six players unavailable again Sunday night, the short-handed Magic dropped a rather uninspiring contest to the equally health-deprived Philadelphia 76ers, who were playing without Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. Philadelphia shot 64.9 percent (50-77 FGA’s) from the floor against Orlando in the contest, matching the highest percentage an opponent has ever shot against the Magic in a single game (in franchise history).

Shake Milton scored a season-high 29 points (10-13 FGA’s, 3-6 3PTA’s), dished-out 7 assists, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Tobias Harris added 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in 30 minutes.

“We didn’t play any, that’s the reality of it right there,” Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley told reporters after the game, when asked about his team’s defensive performance Sunday night. “We gave up three’s, and we gave up paint (points). Understanding that you have a team on the second night, you’ve got to make sure that we come out ready to play.”

Both teams began the game clicking on all cylinders offensively Sunday. The Magic and Sixers combined to make 14 of the first 20 field goals attempted in the game (each team went 7-10 FGA’s through the game’s first six minutes).

An 11-2 run by the Magic midway through the first quarter forced Sixers head coach Doc Rivers to burn two early timeouts within forty-five seconds of one another. Rivers was particularly unhappy with his team’s lack of defensive resistance in transition.

However, Philadelphia shot the ball extremely well in the opening period (14-21 FGA’s, 66.7 percent), capped-off by a three-point make from Furkan Korkmaz from the right-wing as time expired in the quarter. Korkmaz finished with 17 points.

The Sixers were able to build a double-digit lead in the second quarter, which coincided with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero heading to the bench for the Magic. Severely lacking players to initiate offense, Orlando’s second unit struggled mightily to begin the period.

Philadelphia scored 29 of the first 39 points registered in the second quarter. The Sixers were able to get the ball in the paint whenever they wanted, and frequently finished their forays into the painted area with thunderous dunks that left Mosley frustrated and wanting more from his defense.

“It was more effort based than anything,” Mosley added after the game. “Understanding that, ‘yes’ we’re bodies down, we’re beat up, we’re losing guys left and right. But at the end of the day, the guys that are on the court need to make sure that they are willing to step in there and play the right way, play hard, and play for one another.”

After shooting 63.2 percent in the opening period, Orlando missed 15 of their 19 attempts in the second quarter.

By forcing turnovers, getting out in transition, and dominating the painted area, Philadelphia was able to build a 22-point lead heading into intermission.

Harris scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half, while Milton knocked-down 5 of 6 attempts from the field in the half (2-3 3PTA’s in first half).

Two members of Orlando’s already depleted rotation Sunday failed to come out of the locker room for the second half against Philadelphia, as the team ruled Mo Bamba (back spasms) and Terrence Ross (illness) out for the second half moments into the third quarter.

“I haven’t seen anything like this, I really haven’t,” an exasperated Mosley told reporters after the game. “I know COVID hit, there were injuries (in the past), but I haven’t seen much like this. We had seven guys (available) coming down the stretch. Whether that’s injuries, or guys getting sick, it’s something different.”

With guys playing out of position, playing additional minutes, or just playing on the floor in a rotation with others they may not be as familiar with, the Magic failed to find the energy to go on a second half run - limping to the fourth quarter down by 28 points.

“Of course it’s frustrating to be short-handed, but everybody is,” forward/center Moritz Wagner said after the game. “Look at the (76ers), they had nine guys today. A few of their main guys were out, that’s not an excuse. You’ve got to keep grinding, and that’s a decision we’ve got to make.”

Philadelphia’s 133 points scored were the second-most Orlando has allowed this season, while the 30-point margin of defeat Sunday was Orlando’s most deciding loss of the season.

The Sixers were able to hold key offensive advantages over the Magic in fast break points (26-16), points off turnovers (26-22), bench points (59-48), and points in the paint (72-44).

Banchero finished with a quiet 18 points to lead Orlando (7-17 FGA’s), while guard/forward F. Wagner added 17 points (6-11 FGA’s) in 25 minutes.

Orlando was already without the services of Cole Anthony (oblique), Jalen Suggs (ankle), Markelle Fultz (toe), Chuma Okeke (knee), Jonathan Isaac (knee), and Wendell Carter Jr. (foot) before both Bamba and Ross went down.

Fultz, who has missed the first 20 games of Orlando’s season due to a fractured toe, was upgraded to “questionable” for the first time this season prior to Sunday’s contest. Mosley told reporters before the game that Fultz still needed a few more days, and would also miss tomorrow’s game in Brooklyn. But it appears Fultz may be very close to making his season debut.

For the Magic (and their fans), there is no choice other than to continue to be patient and hope the team starts to get healthy sooner rather than later. Orlando doesn’t have a lot of time to sit around and feel sorry for themselves either, as they have to hop on a flight and be in Brooklyn tomorrow to take on Kevin Durant and the Nets. Tipoff in Brooklyn is set for 7:30 PM EST.