Sixers beat Magic 74-69 behind stifling defense

The Sixers held the Magic to 33.3% shooting. They very nearly had as many assists (22) as the Magic had made field goals (26). They held a Magic team that was second in the league in three pointers made and third in the league in three point percentage to 7-22 shooting. They held Superman Dwight Howard to 17 points on 17 shots.

Check the national media tomorrow and you're much more likely to hear about the Magic losing this game than the Sixers winning it. And there's some merit to that, as the Magic are playing absolutely dreadful basketball right now, losing 4 straight and averaging 76 points per game over that stretch.

And the Sixers end to the game certainly puts a damper on things. Up 18 points with under 3 minutes remaining, the Sixers fell asleep at the wheel, missing 6 free throws and playing porous defense. After allowing 18 points in the first 21 minutes of the second half, the Sixers gave up 18 points in the last 3. When Doug Collins is caught yelling expletives at Evan Turner at the end of the game, who in turned threw a towel down the Wells Fargo Center halls, things aren't entirely rosy, even after a win.

But this was a quality win, darnit, against an opponent with a legitimate superstar and a team with legitimate playoff aspirations, even if they're not playing like it now. The last 3 minutes of horrible basketball shouldn't prevent us from enjoying the superb effort the team gave during the first 45.

The game ball tonight goes to Elton Brand. He may not have the stat line to back it up, but his defense on Dwight was incredible. Fighting for position, boxing Dwight out, contesting shots. I've gotten on Elton in the past for inconsistent defensive rebounding, but he was a man tonight. 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals, and pure hustle.

Tony Battie and Lavoy Allen gave the Sixers good minutes in the middle as well. Tony finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds, and Lavoy played what I thought was his best game as a Sixer. I've been a huge critic of Lavoy Allen ever since the day he was drafted, but if he gives the Sixers the incredible effort he gave them tonight, he has the talent to stick on the roster. His effort was off the charts tonight.

The defensive rebounding was, for the most part, solid throughout the game before getting away from the Sixers late. The previously mentioned big men were a major part of that.

Iguodala finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a heck of a lot of defense. He was putrid down the stretch at the line, though, and for that should be released.

(Kidding).

In all seriousness, free throw shooting is going to come back to bite this team, and had they been playing a team at the top of their game tonight may have been the night. The Sixers came into the game 20th in the league in free throw shooting and went 10-19 from the charity stripe tonight. Iguodala is now shooting 63% on the season, which is unacceptable for a wing player.

I loved how Jrue started off the game, but he struggled shooting the ball. Holiday and Jodie Meeks scored 13 points on 17 field goal attempts. Louis Williams struggled for most of the game before making a couple of key shots down the stretch.

Overall, any time you hold a team to 69 points on 78 field goal attempts, even one without their starting point guard and shooting guard, and even one playing as terrible as the Magic currently are, today was a good day. The last 3 minutes don't offset that.

Player of the game: Elton Brand

Magic vs 76ers boxscore

Orlando Pinstriped Post

Next up: Bulls vs 76ers, Wednesday 7 PM

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