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Sixers avenge ugly loss to Magic despite some sloppy play

It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Sixers were able to split their two-game home series against the Magic Wednesday night.

Orlando Magic v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Sixers bounced back Wednesday night with a 105-94 victory over the Orlando Magic to complete the two-game series between the clubs. James Harden just missed a triple-double, putting up 26 points along with nine rebounds and 10 assists. Joel Embiid used a perfect 10-10 mark from the free throw line to drop 28 points and 11 boards.

Here are some instant observations from the win.

First Quarter

  • So uh, about those three different starting lineups that are matchup dependent...
  • There wasn’t a ton of defense on either side to start this one. The Sixers’ 37-point first came on 48 percent shooting. Embiid was definitely looking for a better performance against Mo Wagner, going right at him on the block, finishing the quarter with one nifty fast break with Shake Milton.
  • A pretty bizarre quarter for the Magic offensively, as they started the game getting anything they wanted at the rim, but then they missed over half their free throws, starting the game 4-of-9 from the charity stripe. They were held scoreless for the last 3:50 of the first as the Sixers closed it on a 17-0 run.

Second Quarter

  • It’s unclear what exactly caused the decision, but Doc Rivers opted to go to Paul Reed after just a couple minutes of Montrezl Harrell. Philly didn’t have any rhythm during this stretch, only scoring two points over the first four minutes of the second.
  • Orlando is a team with a ton of athleticism and length, making them tricky to match up against. That being said, I’m not sure Georges Niang is the best one suited to guard Paolo Banchero 1-on-1. This wasn’t a matchup Philly used a ton, but Banchero went right by Niang every time down the floor. The No. 1 overall pick had 11 first-half points.
  • The Sixers’ offense didn’t really get going when the starters checked back into the game. Any Sixer not named Embiid struggled with Orlando’s length. Philly shot 32 percent from the field in the second as their 14-point lead was shrunk to three before the break.

Third Quarter

  • A scoring burst from James Harden out of the half paced the Sixers out in front in the third quarter. Harden scored nine of his 26 in the third. His passes didn’t feel as sharp at times, as his seven turnovers would indicate. Still, he made up for it dishing out nine assists and going 6 of 10 from downtown.
  • The turnovers really kept the Magic hanging around. The Sixers had a couple chances to stretch their lead back to double digits, but would either give the Magic an easy fast break or and-1. Too many self-inflicted mistakes as the Sixers went into the fourth holding a four-point lead.
  • Well, Paul Reed must have done the wrong thing as well, as Harrell was backing up Embiid in the second half. It isn’t just frustrating that seemingly the worse player is getting the bulk of the minutes, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which guy plays.

Fourth Quarter

  • Another quiet night for Tyrese Maxey, who shot just 2-of-11 from the field. It wasn’t a huge shock that the smaller Maxey struggled against Orlando, but his first make came just at the right time, as he hit a corner three to give the Sixers a 10-point lead with eight minutes to go.
  • It was refreshing to see the Sixers coast through most of the fourth quarter after playing pretty sloppy basketball over the last two. This Magic team is young but they have talent and play very hard, but the Sixers wouldn’t let that effort beat them two games in a row.
  • After the week-long homestead, the Sixers will head out on the road, with the first stop being this Friday in San Antonio to take on the Spurs at 8 p.m.

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