We expected tonight to be a get-right game for the Philadelphia 76ers. After a tough stretch where the roster had been hit by COVID, injuries, and a difficult West Coast trip, the Sixers had a reasonably healthy roster with their preferred starting five available at home to face the 4-17 Orlando Magic missing point guard Cole Anthony. Maybe Philadelphia could get an early lead and get the starters some rest, particularly important after they were overextended in Saturday night’s double-overtime loss.
Following opening tip, it looked like things would play to that script. The Sixers jumped out to a 19-4 lead. Seth Curry and Tobias Harris would combine for 16 first-quarter points. In addition to recording five assists in the opening frame, Tyrese Maxey flashed his continually evolving shooting.
Maxey knocking down threes off of DHOs? Nice sight to see. pic.twitter.com/jj1PDhoLGu— Harrison Grimm (@Harrison_Grimm) November 30, 2021
However, when the two teams treaded water in the second quarter, things got dicey after halftime for Philadelphia. The Magic stymied the Sixers with a zone defense, Mo Bamba protected the rim like the Under Armour spokesperson (six blocks on the game), and Franz Wagner Eurostepped his way through and around Philadelphia defenders (final line of 27 points, six rebounds, five assists). Suddenly, Orlando held a 64-62 lead midway through the third quarter.
Fortunately, one of the few guys on the roster that knows what to do against a zone is Seth Curry. The Sixers sharpshooter canned another two threes in the third, helping his squad eke their way back into a three-point advantage heading into the final frame.
Philadelphia still struggled mightily in the fourth, and it was up to Curry to bail them out again. With just over two minutes left in the game, Curry sank a long baseline jumper to extend the Sixers’ lead to four. It was the capper on a hyper-efficient night for him, and he finished with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 from deep).
The Sixers were determined to further induce the sweat, though. In the next moments, we got the “Joel Embiid turnover when faced with a double team” and “Tobias Harris miss around the rim” one-two punch that Sixers fans have seen far too often in crunch-time situations. Orlando was able to tie the game at 93.
Yet, the Magic are perhaps still a bit too green to pull of the upset. Embiid grabbed a big offensive rebound and made a pair of free throws to put Philadelphia back in front. A few possessions later on the defensive end, Embiid made a terrific block of Wagner to deny Orlando one last gasp at a comeback. It was a nice final minute for the Sixers star, who really struggled on the whole this night (4-of-16 from the field with 16 points). The Sixers ultimately prevailed, 101-96, to move back above .500 on the season at 11-10.
Behind Curry’s 24 points, Harris scored 17 on 8-of-20 shooting from the field. Andre Drummond had some nice minutes in the second half, finishing the game with six offensive rebounds (12 board total), a pair of blocks, and seven points. The Sixers will be in Boston Wednesday night. They’ll need to play better than they did tonight.