The Philadelphia 76ers were in the Amway Center to face the Orlando Magic for the fourth and final time this year. For the most part the meetings between the two clubs have been close and fun to watch, including a double-overtime thriller that saw rookies Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams each record triple-doubles. The two are the frontrunners for Rookie of the Year honors and every time they match up it’s clear they’ve developed a friendly rivalry.
Orlando’s roster was depleted last night due to the absence of Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo. Because the guard position is so thin, Ronnie Price stepped into the starting lineup with E’Twaun Moore seeing plenty of minutes off the bench. This was Price’s first start for the Magic. In fact, the last time he started a game was on February 14, 2012, when he was with the Phoenix Suns.
Without Nelson in the lineup the Magic had no floor general to run the offense. MCW took advantage of turnovers early with 12 points in the first quarter. Tobias Harris played a physical game, scoring at will in the paint. It was his 13 points that led to a 28-27 lead for the Magic at the end of the first.
The second quarter was a difficult one for Orlando offensively and the lead slipped as a result. Credit poor shooting as Magic players excluding Harris combined to shoot just 30 percent from the floor. Thaddeus Young got hot from beyond the arc and propelled his team to a three-point lead going into the half.
Although Philly gives up a league-high 111 points per game, they were playing spirited defense last night. This was a point of emphasis for Brett Brown going into the game and it surely gave his team an advantage that was not there in the clubs’ last meeting. On top of that, Thad Young continued his hot streak into the second half where he went 6-of-7 for 12 points in the third period. The game remained close though thanks to Nikola Vucevic stepping up his game on offense and punishing the Sixers on the block.
Orlando really took off in the fourth quarter; the team was clicking on all cylinders. The likes of Kyle O’Quinn, Ronnie Price, and Moore contributed some great hustle plays that led to a 13-2 run that put the Magic back in control of the game with a score of 79-71 with about seven minutes remaining in the game. The Sixers had a tough time recovering after that, turned the ball over often, and did not convert on open shot attempts, resulting in a 12-point fourth quarter. Orlando had a full head of steam and ran away with it. Final score: 92-81.
Magic Game Notes
Vucevic and Harris control the paint
Both Nik Vucevic and Tobias Harris turned in monster performances last night, and it was behind their efforts that the Magic were able to come away with a win. Vucevic’s final stat line was 18 points and 17 rebounds. Harris was the man on the night though with 31 points and 8 rebounds.
Magic now .500 at home
Although Orlando’s record falls near the bottom of the league, they have been surprisingly effective on their home turf. Last night’s win put them at the .500 mark at home this season. Part of the lack of success on the road may be attributed to the youth of the team, but if they pick up consistency the Magic could be a dangerous opponent in a weak Eastern Conference.
Oladipo on how often he and Jacque Vaughn talk about the Rookie of the Year award:
“Never, we have not talked about it one time. I’m just trying to be great, if they give it to me it’s a good thing, but at the end of the day I’m going to be great.”
Jeff Turner on where the term “KAPAYA” came from:
“Tim Hardaway really got it going one night when he was on the Warriors and Jerry Reynolds kept screaming KAPAYA every time he hit a shot. From that time on it became a thing with the guys and stuck with me.”
Stat of the Night
The Orlando Magic have hit at least one three-pointer in 554 straight games thanks to the one and only long-range jumper hit by Moe Harkless last night.