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Sixers finally win a game without Embiid with balanced offense, strong defense vs. Magic

The Sixers finally got a win without Joel Embiid as Tyrese Maxey was sharper and the defense stepped up against a tough Orlando team.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

They are on the board without the big fella.

The Sixers picked up their first win of the season without Joel Embiid in the lineup, knocking off the Orlando Magic 112-92 Wednesday night.

Tyrese Maxey bounced back with 23 points, shooting 50% both from the field and from three-point range.

Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton had 22 points apiece. Melton shot 8-of-13 from the field as Philadelphia had six different players score in double digits.

Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.

First Quarter

  • It was a choppy start for the Philly offense, especially once Maxey was sent to the bench after picking up two fouls just over four minutes into the game. Without a true point guard on the floor for a good chunk of the quarter, the Sixers recorded only one assist in the first. By the end of the quarter they were trying to run sets through Marcus Morris Sr. at the nail.
  • The Sixers’ defense wasn’t too bad to start, they just had too many moments where they fell asleep watching the ball handler. Jalen Suggs started the game 5-of-5 from the floor, and it felt like all of those field goals came from cutting back door down the baseline for an easy layup.
  • Mo Bamba was guilty of getting beat on some of those cups, but he opened the game with another really solid stretch. He had two stocks in the first, ending the quarter by rejecting Franz Wagner. He also found Harris with a really nice post-entry pass that Harris was eventually able to finish. The Sixers held a one-point lead after the first.

Second Quarter

  • He was hampered by foul trouble, but it was undoubtedly a better half for Maxey than anything he did on Christmas as he made his first four field goals of the game. He was fairly passive in looking for his shot, but was much quicker in getting rid of the ball before the defense could double him.
  • Somehow, Morris had a productive stretch of minutes without hitting a three. He was Maxey’s pick-and-roll partner for a stretch, screening at the elbow to set himself up for a short roll. He was able to bully his way to 10 first-half points, making four of his first five from inside the arc.
  • It looked like Nurse decided to roll with Morris longer than expected because of that start. He played 10 minutes before Robert Covington checked in for him with four minutes left in the half. It was Covington’s first appearance in two games, and a pretty late spot to check into a game for the first time. Rotations in the second half would actually indicate Covington replaced Danuel House Jr.’s spot.
  • The Sixers ended the half much better than NBC Sports Philadelphia’s broadcast, which completely crashed. Maxey capped off a 12-point quarter with a very impressive finish in transition— slowing down to let Suggs pass him while staying in front of Wendell Carter Jr. Philly took a six-point lead into halftime.

Third Quarter

  • After shooting 0-of-5 and scoring only one point in the first half, Kelly Oubre Jr. made an impact at the beginning of the second half. Most of that impact was on the defensive end, as he had a really impressive steal while getting the ball up ahead for a fast break. A couple possessions later he came down the weak side for a hearty block on Paolo Banchero.
  • Oubre drew the Banchero assignment primarily, but the whole team did a good job of defending him. Through three quarters, the 2022 No. 1 overall pick had just 12 points on only 5-of-15 shooting.
  • There’s still plenty of work to do, but De’Anthony Melton is noticeably better at finishing at the basket. He was 4-of-6 on his two-pointers through the first three quarters, with a number of impressive makes in transition. Philly pushed their lead to nine at the end of three.

Fourth Quarter

  • Harris picked a good time of the game to make his first three-pointer of the evening. He drilled a corner three about three minutes into the quarter to snap a 9-2 Magic run. Harris has definitely had more efficient nights, but at least he hoisted up five threes.
  • Someone who did finish the night fairly efficiently was Melton. These games without Embiid where he’s had to create a lot more has led to some ugly shooting splits from him. While he looked a bit overtasked in the first quarter, he really seemed to settle in to the game after that. He only took 13 shots tonight whereas a month ago he might have taken 18 or 19 without making any more.
  • Maxey had a ton of impressive finishes at the rim tonight, but somehow this three-pointer might have been his most impressive on the night. Not to be outdone by Paul Reed of course, who got his silly play of the night in with the pass that set it up.
  • The Sixers’ road trip moves on to Houston as they’ll take on the Rockets Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.

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