The Magic downed the Sixers 99-95 behind a 30 point, 17 rebounder performance from Dwight Howard, which combined with a barrage of late three pointers from the Magic perimeter players proved to be too much for the Sixers to handle.
Employing a similar defensive strategy as the last time these two teams met, the Sixers sent Dwight Howard to the line early and often, and this time the Atlanta native delivered. Howard ended the game shooting 14-19 from the charity stripe.
"What else do you do? That's why the guy's a first team all pro center," an exasperated Doug Collins said. "If he was 10-19 or 9-19, I'd say "well, hell of a job". But when he steps up you have to give him credit, he made his free throws."
With a dominant big man and a plethora of shooters, the Magic present matchup problems galore.
"Orlando has gone back to playing a lot like they did when they went to the NBA finals," Collins stated. "They're playing a smaller lineup, and they're very difficult to guard because that four man now shoots the ball."
Louis Williams shared a similar sentiment.
"It's easy for them because they have Dwight [Howard] and four shooters, so as much as we rotate, every guys is a live ball," Williams said.
The Sixers jumped out to an early lead, holding the Magic to 31.6% from the field and only 1 offensive rebound in the first quarter en route to a 27-18 lead. The Magic stormed back in the second, led by 7 points a piece from Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard, along with 6 from JJ Redick. The Magic would head into half time 49-47 as the Sixers shot only 39.1% from the field in the first half, and the Sixers would regain the lead only briefly the rest of the way.
An 8-0 run in the fourth quarter helped the Sixers tie the game at 77. The Magic rained a barrage of three's on the Sixers to close the game out. Redick, Jason Richardson and Anderson each made a three midway through the 4th, and while a late barrage by Louis Williams on his way to 18 fourth quarter points made it interesting, the Magic had control from there on out.
Before that outburst, the Sixers had done a good job on the Magic roleplayers. The Magic shot only 6-20 from downtown through the first three quarters, with nobody other than Howard having more than 10 points. The Magic shot 4-6 from distance during the fourth.
"They can be 7-23 [from three point range] and then hit 4 in a row," Collins said about the Magic. "They're just going to keep shooting them and that's sort of what happened tonight at the end of the game."
Turner and Holiday playing time.
The Sixers backcourt of the future saw limited playing time in the fourth, with Jrue Holiday playing only 3:28 and Evan Turner just under 3 minutes. Turner had an excuse, as he suffered back spasms before the game and tried to play through it. Turner was on his way over to see Kevin Johnson immediately after I talked to him, and said he expected to play Friday, and likely practice tomorrow. Jrue Holiday, on the other hand, simply struggled. Holiday shot 1-5 from the field on his way to a three point, 4 rebound, 4 assist night.
Holiday is now averaging 8 points on 34.5% shooting in the three games against Orlando. Perhaps more interestingly, Holiday is averaging only 12.3 points and 5.7 assists on 40.9% shooting during the 40 games Iguodala has played, while averaging 17.8 points, 8.6 assists on 50% shooting during the 12 games Iguodala has missed.