After five wins this season all against Western Conference opponents, the Sixers' sixth win was their first win of the season against an Eastern Conference foe, a 96-87 win against the Magic that was never in much doubt throughout the second half.
The Sixers started the game in incredibly ugly fashion against the Magic. The Sixers committed six turnovers in the first quarter and though the Magic were not able to fully capitalize and just completely pounce on the Sixers' ineptitude, they did jump out to a lead. The Magic maxed out at 20-10 lead in the first quarter, and then the Sixers' bench came in ending all of the Sixers' plights on the night. A Hollis Thompson three followed an Isaiah Canaan three followed another Thompson three, and suddenly the Sixers had tied the game up with the Magic consistently missing shots and turning the ball over on the offensive end during the Sixers' offensive spurt. Though the Magic would get some second quarter leads, they never replicated their first quarter 10-point lead. The Sixers led by a point at halftime, and only added to that in the second half without ever relinquishing it, leading to tonight's 9-point victory and a declaration from Magic broadcasters that their team has hit a "new low"
As for the Sixers bench, their offensive firepower continued throughout the game. Hollis Thompson finished the game 7-10 for 17 points and a +14. It has not been a particularly strong year for Hollis, and he really needs to watch how he places his feet when trying to shoot a three, but this was a good game for him and Levin may or may not have thrown an impromptu party in his honor. Canaan finished the game 5-8 for 15 points which led to absolutely no one throwing an impromptu party in his honor but hey he did good offense today, which is not something that is always said about him.
The most interesting match-up of the game had to have been Jahlil Okafor and Nikola Vucevic, as both seemed at first to really enjoy playing against each other. At halftime, Okafor had himself an efficient 14 points while Vucevic racked in an efficient 12 points. The back-and-forth battle had been interesting but in the second half only Okafor, though not as efficient as in the first half, bested Vucevic. Okafor finished the game 9-17 for 20 points while Vucevic after a nice 6-9 start finished 7-15 for 15 points which included a full quarter and a half where Vuce produced a grand total of zero points.
It was not all sunshine for the Sixers, though. After playing a strong 19 minutes in the first half, Noel left the game at halftime with what was described as "headache and blurred vision," symptoms often indicative of a concussion. Post-game CSN's Jessica Camerato reported that Noel felt like he a migrane. Assuming Noel accurately diagnosed himself, it is a huge relief that it is not a concussion situation, though of course that is not to say that migranes are any bit pleasant as quite a few people who suffer from migranes have told me over the years. In addition, JaKarr Sampson came out of the game at halftime with a hip injury while the once scheduled to play tonight Nik Stauskas missed the game completely as he continues to recover from his shoulder injury.
The Orlando Magic are a haven for former Sixers and they do not even have Moe Harkless anymore. A quick recap of how each of them fared, minus the previously discussed Vucevic.
- Elfrid Payton: 8-13 for 21 points in a game-leading 41 minutes, 10 assists, six rebounds, and one regrettable hairstyle.
- Jason Smith: 2-4 for 4 points in 11 minutes, and 1 attempted shot at Noel's legs. Screw that guy.
- Dewayne Dedmon: Existed on the basketball court for 5 minutes.
After their horrendous start to the season which saw them win just three games combined in 2015, the Sixers have equaled that total in the first 20 days (10 games) of January. Up next for the Sixers, pending this Saturday's currently forecasted winter storm, is a trip back home to take on the Celtics. Should the game be postponed beyond January 26, the Sixers' next game will then be not until Tuesday when the Suns visit to play basketball and melt the snow.