Common knowledge would've told you prior to last night's Sixers-Magic contest that Orlando didn't have much of a shot. Minus starters and key contributors Nik Vucevic and Jameer Nelson, both out with injuries, Tuesday seemed like a chance for a possible steamrolling.
The only thing is, somebody forgot to tell that to the Magic.
What initially seemed like what could have been a rather one sided game turned into a knock down, drag out fight spanning the length of six quarters, where stat sheets were stuffed like your Thanksgiving turkey. Philadelphia pulled out a victory, but by just the slimmest of margins.
The first half was a two man show led by Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis, who single handedly carried Orlando throughout the game; the tandem combined for 30 points in the first half on an incredibly efficient 11-17 shooting. Whoever put together the scouting report for Tuesday's contest seemingly left out any sort of information on Davis' midrange game, as the "Big Baby" repeatedly knocked down open, 12 foot jumpers for the first 24 minutes.
Michael Carter-Williams put together a solid first half for Philadelphia, leading the way with 11 points as he repeatedly found his way to the rim on multiple occasions. At points this year it seems as though MCW has forced himself to take jump shots as he tries to improve his outside game. Without Vucevic, MCW noticed a gaping hole in the paint and repeatedly took advantage of it.
Philadelphia began to break lose in the third quarter, at one point stretching the lead out to 11 points, but it never truly felt that Orlando was out of it. Carter-Williams' counterpart Victor Oladipo decided to make the third quarter his, scoring 10 in the quarter to close the game to five as the teams headed into the final frame.
Once again, the Sixers pushed out in front in the fourth quarter but it was Afflalo who led the charge this time, putting on a shooting display from all ends of the court. The once afterthought of the Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard mega-deal pushed the Sixers to their limit, single handedly helping to give Orlando a two point lead with less than two minutes.
While the Sixers bent, they certainly did not break. Two baskets from Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young with just over thirty seconds left extended the Sixers lead to three.
However, Glen Davis would not be denied his glory. In what was an obvious broken play, Davis, a 17.1% lifetime shooter from beyond the arc, took command of the basketball and knocked down a trey to tie up the game at 104. Naturally, it was his first attempted three all season.
The two teams went into overtime, and found themselves up 118-115 with just 12 seconds on the clock. Head coach Jacque Vaughn drew up a play for Arron Afflalo to take a game tying three, and while Afflalo's shot clanked off the rim, Orlando was given a gift from the referees. Evan Turner was whistled for a very ticky-tack foul in the act of shooting, and Afflalo knocked down all three free throws, sending the teams into a second quarter of free basketball.
Apparently having seen enough, Carter-Williams took over. His driving layup and assist to Thaddeus Young for an eight-foot shot put the game on ice, and Philadelphia came away winners by a final of 126-125.
Carter-Williams, who played the whole game on a banged up knee had his first triple-double ever, scoring 27 points along with 12 assists, 10 rebounds, and three steals. Fellow rookie Oladipo also had a triple-double, making Tuesday's game the first time two rookies put up a triple double in the same game.
Despite issues with depth, Orlando hung with the Sixers right up until the very end, proving you can never truly count out any team in the NBA.