The Sixers lost to the Orlando Magic in a close game on Sunday night by a final score of 103 to 98. Philadelphia threatened to take a lead a few times, especially late, but the Magic were just too good. Former Sixers big man Nikola Vucevic was the catalyst of Orlando's success with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
There's a lot to discuss so let's just get right to it.
• In honor of Andy Reid, let's start off with injuries. Jerami Grant suffered a back contusion after getting majorly stuffed at the rim by former Sixers big man Dewayne Dedmon. Grant took a hard fall and it didn't look pretty. He stayed in the game for a bit before heading back to the locker room. He wouldn't return.
Nerlens Noel rolled his ankle late in the game but didn't have to come out.
• Luc Richard Mbah a Moute didn't play because he didn't fly with the team due to personal reasons. He didn't arrive in time for the game, but it seems like he should be ready for Monday's game.
• THE CANAAN BALL! Not a bad debut for the Sixers' new starting point guard. Isaiah Canaan's first shot as a Sixer was a pull up three where his defender didn't respect his shooting ability and gave him a little bit too much of a cushion. He drilled it.
CANAANBALLLLLLL pic.twitter.com/hvWGdVs7aX— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) February 22, 2015
Another of Canaan's four three pointers came late in the game with 31 seconds left. He drilled a shot with Victor Oladipo right in his face to cut the Magic's lead to only three points.
Canaan finished with 14 points on 41.7% shooting, four rebounds, three assists, and three turnovers. The length of rookie Elfrid Payton bothered him at times on both offense and defense, but overall a good showing. Especially with how uncomfortable he looked in the offense at times. Lil' Sip could benefit from some more practice with the team. And some more iPad sessions:
Sixers using an iPad on the bench to look at tape in real time. Pretty cool! pic.twitter.com/irQeyVG14f— Max Rappaport (@MaxRappaport) February 22, 2015
• Let's talk about Nerlens. He struggled with Vuce at times, but also got the best of him with a few blocks. Noel finished with 10 points on seven shots and only three rebounds. The most impressive part of his game on Sunday night was his passing. He finished with five assists. One of those came on a high-low look early in the game after he ran a slip screen to get open in the high post. He dumped off to Henry Sims for the easy score. Now imagine Noel and Joel Embiid running the high-low. It's gonna be fun.
I liked Noel's aggressiveness in this game. He took it to the rim a few times, including a floating runner in the lane off the glass. At one point he backed down Channing Frye and bowled him over. It probably was a charge, but there was no way a ref was going to call it one considering how frail Noel looks. The bad news was that he missed the easy shot.
• Robet Covington finished with 16 points and nine boards. He got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out late. Not good. Some of those were tacky and could have been avoided. Just something he needs to work on before he can win MVP one day.
• Really impressed with JaKarr Sampson in this game. He scored 16 on nine shots. A number of those points came late in the game to keep the Sixers alive. CLUTCH GENE. He showed off as both a shooter and a driver. I believe in him so much.
• Jerami Grant was having a good game until he got hurt. Seven points on just two shots in eight minutes played.
• JAVALE moment of the night: Goal-tending on a shot where he basically just caught the ball with one hand. Then he had another goal-tend not too long after. This would be incredibly frustrating if the Sixers were trying to win, but it's just hilarious in this situation.
• J-Rich is still shaking off the rust. He couldn't find the ocean despite getting some good looks.
• Furkan Aldemir wasn't good. He played eight minutes but didn't do much. He had a costly moment where a ball was thrown his way but he spaced out and the pass sailed wide for an Orlando fast break. Brett Brown promptly benched him after that error.
• Maybe I'm just not fun but I swear the Orlando Magic's bench is way too obnoxious for a team that's won 19 games.
Up Next: The Sixers are back it tomorrow night on Monday with a game in Miami against the Bosh-less Heat.