76ers hold off the Magic, bounce back with an OT victory 116-114
Tonight, wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia 76ers found a way to beat out the Orlando Magic in overtime and win 116-114 to move to 41-25 on the season.
With the win, the 76ers completed a season sweep of the Magic, and while it wasn’t pretty, it is a step in the right direction after the pathetic performance on Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
Tobias Harris was the only bright spot in the first half of this game for the Sixers, scoring 15 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor. Harris scored seven of the team’s first eight points, while everything else in the opening period for the 76ers was dreadful.
With two off-days and coming off a brutal loss last Thursday night, we expected the Sixers would get their rhythm back tonight against the Magic but instead, we basically got the opposite.
James Harden, coming off arguably his worst performance of the season against the Nets where he shot 3-for-17 from the floor, continued his shooting woes in the first half, going 1-for-8 against the Magic at halftime. Embiid wasn’t much better, only hitting 4-of-16 shots, including ZERO foul shots in the first quarter.
Joel Embiid got this moving in the second half, mainly from the charity stripe. He made 15-of-17 free throws en route to a 35 point night. While he only shot 9-of-28 from the floor, Embiid was still able to dominate in his regular ways. It wasn’t as impressive as his last performance against the Magic where he tied a career high 50 points, but it got the job done nonetheless.
Embiid Tonight: 35 Points 16 Rebounds 7 Assists 2 Blocks 1 Steal
Tobias Harris was the driving force behind the 76ers win tonight, in what was easily his best game since the Harden-era began after the NBA trade deadline. With 26 points and nine rebounds he was the only consistent contributor throughout the entire game for the 76ers.
Sure, Harris had his moments, after screwing up an important at point blank range layup with under a minute left in regulation, but he quickly redeemed himself with a huge go ahead triple with 30 seconds left in overtime.
Without reading too much into it, the last two games with James Harden struggling offensively has started to draw some concerns from 76ers fans and rightfully so. There are times where Harden seems to fall back into his isolation heavy offensive style which hinders the offensive flow given the fact he is such a ball-dominant guard.
During the first few games with Harden in Philly, the Sixers played really well in a flowing set that allowed for ball movement, transition offense, and the pick & roll. That wasn’t the case against the Nets or tonight against the Magic, but still, Harden was able to finish the night with 26 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Heading to overtime against the Magic certainly wasn’t since the 76ers will be back in action tomorrow night in South Philadelphia against the Denver Nuggets
Joel Embiid played 41 minutes tonight and Harris/Harden played 44 minutes a piece. It would be a shame to have Embiid or Harden grab some rest with Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in town, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that ends up being the case.
The Sixers currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference after tonight, 2.5 games behind the Miami Heat. Even with a bad loss against the Brooklyn Nets and a sloppy win against the Magic, they are still 7-3 over their last 10 games.
I’m fully aware the last two games have been rough, but there’s really no reason to panic. The final month of the NBA season always seems to play out this way, especially when you’re already a playoff team. The lack of interest on the court from the players and the extra days off seems to throw all the vibes off.
At the end of the night, Sixers will be just fine.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS