ORLANDO, Fl – You could see the snowball forming as the night moved on. The Philadelphia 76ers never trailed in their 116-92 thrashing of the 4-0 Orlando Magic on New Year’s Eve at Amway Center.
Before the game, news broke that Terrance Ross was feeling some hamstring uneasiness and would not be playing. Ross was one of the Magic’s leading scorers in their 4-0 start.
The Sixers’ Joel Embid and Seth Curry lead all scorers with 21 points, with Tobias Harris close behind with 20 points Vucevic topped the Magi with 19 points.
Philly had 48% field goal percentage while the Magic ended at 34%, and the Sixers also hit 45% from deep.
In the first quarter, Orlando’s Evan Fournier checked out of the game and headed to the locker room for treatment for what turned out to be back spasms. That took even more outside scoring off of the floor.
The Magic went 33 for 95 in field goals.
Towards the end of the first half, Nikole Vucevic was taken out of the game. The frustrated Center Slammed a Gatorade container and stormed back to the Magic Locker room as well.
When the game started, the Magic didn’t have their usual high energy defense. The Sixers tandem of Joel Embid and Ben Simmons cancelled out Orlando’s new strength of drive and dish play by Markelle Fultz and Aaron Gordon, leaving the Magic to depend on outside shooting, meaning Evan Fournier, Dwayne Bacon and Nikola Vucevic.
But the boys in blue looked tired. Jump shots were coming up short, defensive coverage was late, and the energy was less than we’ve seen so far this season.
“They were great.” Says Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford “They had much higher energy than we did, We made mistakes, they made shots. They were much more ready to play than we were, and we let this one get away from us.”
Philadelphia started the 20-21 season with a revamped front office, coaching staff and team. The arrivals of Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Dwight Howard have strengthened the team’s starting five and bench, and with new Head Coach Doc Rivers who’s teams always emphasize defense, at the helm, Philly is looking strong.
Vucevic had his hands full with Embid, who could pretty much do what he wanted.
Clifford isn’t happy with his team’s defensive efforts.
“I like our team, I like who we can become. But we’re not putting enough into guarding the ball and helping. Things that we’ve been good at in the last few years, we’re not doing, and that’s the hard things. Right now we’re not willing to do that, and tonight we paid the price.”
The Magic have tomorrow Friday off and come back to Amway Center to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday at 7 pm