There was something new in Philadelphia on Wednesday night but there was also plenty of old things as well, including a 21-0 run by Magic in the fourth quarter that turned a sure win for the Sixers into something else: a frustrating 111-106 loss.
The Sixers were outscored 35-19 in the fourth, and while they did manage to stay fairly even with the Magic after the aforementioned run, they never managed to get on a run of their own aside from a brief little spell when Wilson Chandler caught fire. He finished the game on the bench because of a minutes restriction. Things fell apart. The Sixers dropped to 9-7 on the season.
Oh yeah, Jimmy Butler made his Sixers debut! Let’s be positive and talk about that. Here’s some videos of Butler doing good things tonight:
Butler finished his first game as a Sixer with 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists. He was 6/12 from the field. Butler likely sees an even more involved role as he grows more and more comfortable with the team, but it was an encouraging start (for the most part). His ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays off the dribble can add a lot of new dimensions to what Philadelphia can do on the offensive end.
Joel Embiid hit three early three pointers, but finished with just 19 points, a little disappointing in relation to how he started the game. He missed three of his last four attempts from behind the arc, including a tough miss late in the game as the Sixers tried to keep themselves in the game.
Some interesting lineup notes from this one: The Sixers ran a super-small lineup with Wilson Chandler, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick, and Markelle Fultz at one point, an interesting approach that could likely work better at some point in the future. They used Mike Muscala in the team’s closing lineup, but that likely changes when the minutes restriction comes off of Wilson Chandler. Landry Shamet played as many minutes (15) as Furkan Korkmaz, and while I’m personally a big fan of Korkmaz, it was a little odd to see Shamet take a backseat in the way that he did on Wednesday.
Markelle Fultz played 21 minutes. Any worries that his move to the bench would lead to him barely seeing the floor were quieted — Fultz will still have plenty of opportunities to contribute to this team.
On the other side, it was all Nikola Vucevic. 30 points and eight boards for the former Sixer. Terrence Ross hit the game winner, Aaron Gordon didn’t seem capable of missing in the mid-range, and Wesley Iwundu had one of the best games of his career.
The Sixers are home against Utah on Friday for the second game of the Jimmy Butler era. Will it go better? It’ll go better, right? Even a loss to Utah would be better than allowing a 21-0 run to the Magic, right?