ORLANDO – After going 1-4 on their recent road trip, the Magic find themselves on a 2 game winning streak with a quality win over the now 23-11 Philadelphia 76ers.
Orlando’s top scorers were Evan Fournier with 20 points on 8-14 from the field, Aaron Gordon with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Terrence Ross off the bench with 17 points.
All-Star Center Nikola Vucevic churned out a solid game of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Orlando also won the rebounding battle +3.
At the start of this one, both teams came out noticeably flat, with the 76ers leading at the half 47-46. Early on in the first quarter it looked like Joel Embiid was going to have another dominant game as the offense was going through him.
Embiid did finish the game with a double-double of 24 points and 11 rebounds but struggled at times against Nikola Vucevic. Embiid did himself no favors by falling in love with his jump shot tonight attempting 11 threes, only connecting on 4 of them.
The 76ers also failed to get enough out of Ben Simmons who finished with 13 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds and 3 turnovers. Notably it was Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac who did a great job keeping Ben Simmons in check and making him feel uncomfortable at times.
“Terrific. I thought the defensive intensity, I know this before watching the film we were a much more detailed and we did a good job battling in the post against all their guys”, said. Coach Clifford
With 3:05 left in the 4th, Isaac rejected Simmons’ shot, grabbed the rebound which then led to a Nikola Vucevic transition three putting the Magic up 91-80. “They created a lot of turnovers until the last three and half minutes there. We had done a good job of taking care of the ball so the end wasn’t great, but we can clean that up and it’s a good win against a good team”, said Coach Clifford after the game.
While Isaac struggled offensively in this game only going 2/7 with 4 points, he continues to show his defensive potential amassing another 3 blocks.
A very positive sign that we’re seeing from the Magic is their ability to close out games as they have now won 11 out 12 games after leading or being tied after the 3rd quarter. Orlando again won this game in the 2nd half, outscoring the 76ers 25-21 in the 3rd quarter.
Coach Clifford on his team’s ability to close out games, “You know obviously it’s important. I mean, you got to, again, everybody always says it’s a fourth quarter league and if you look at it statistically, it’s anything but.”
Coach Clifford went on to say “You know playing from ahead is on the road even more important, but having a lead, having the ability to keep it is obviously in this league is critical.”
Although the Magic won this game, similar to their win against the Bulls on Monday, Orlando struggled with their free throws. They were only able to connect on 14-23 free throws (60.9%), missing 7 in the 2nd half, 6 in the final 1:20 seconds of the game. That brings Orlando to a combined 29-46 from the charity strike (63%) over the last two games, something they’ll need to clean up going forward.
The Magic have a very quick turnaround on Saturday, traveling to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on the 2nd of a back to back where Orlando looks to improve their winning streak to 3 games.