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Howard, Redick Help Magic Nip 76ers

Of all the tough losses the Philadelphia 76ers (29-26) have had to bear this season, this had to be near the top of the list in terms of breaking one’s heart. Even with an electrified crowd of 19,775, controversial coaching and bad shooting hurt the home squad in an 88-82 loss to the Orlando Magic.

The game started out as poorly as it ended for Philadelphia, as a combination of five different Magic players helped the road team take a commanding 12-2 lead before Doug Collins called timeout only four minutes in. Glen “Big Baby” Davis had four of those points, and he finished the night with an impressive double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds on 9-21 FG and 5-5 FT.

Williams missed some big shots late, allowing the Magic to slip by the 76ers (Getty).

Four points each from Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams, two guys who would eventually struggle from the field, cut the lead to 15-10 with only four minutes left in the first period. A Magic run had them up 10 before the Sixers closed the gap to 5, 24-19, thanks to a three-pointer by Jodie Meeks. Jodie was a fan favorite early on, hitting 5-6 3-balls for the game and scoring 11 of his 16 points in the first half.

The second quarter was all Sixers all the time. Back-t0-back threes from Meeks and Williams put the Sixers up 3, 29-26, with nine minutes to play, and a couple buckets by here and there by Spencer Hawes and Thad Young helped Philadelphia take a 45-37 lead into the halftime locker room. The only negative of the first half? Hawes, Iguodala, and Turner consistently missed short, open shots that could’ve ended the game midway through the second quarter. Unfortunately, these would come back to haunt Collins’ squad.

The third quarter might as well have been called the “Davis” quarter. Glen scored sixteen points in the third, matching the total output of the Sixers roster in the given time period. A strong start from Brand and strong finish from Meeks helped the Sixers keep it close, but Orlando seemed determined, taking a slim 62-61 lead into the fourth quarter.

As soon as one saga, called the “Davis Trilogy”, ended, another began. It was called “The Adventures of Howard & Redick”, obviously featuring maligned center Dwight Howard and sharpshooting guard J.J. Redick. Howard started out the quarter hot, and his free throw shooting helped finish off the Sixers. Clutch shooting, including seven straight points to help stave off a short Sixers rally, are what made J.J. so important in the outcome of this contest.

Surprisingly, I believe the biggest reason the Sixers lost this game was because of their own fault, especially coach Doug Collins. While bad shooting around the rim didn’t help, keeping Evan Turner out of the game for the last seven minutes and not running plays for Jodie Meeks rendered the Sixers offense sorely ineffective. Jodie was the hot hand in the first three quarters, but didn’t see a single shot attempt in the final frame. Turner, who has been a source of offense this entire season (the latest example being 26 versus Miami), was unable to use his scoring ability to make the Sixers’ half court offense a threat, allowing Howard and Davis to take control of the paint and deflect anything that came near the rim.

The moment that embodied the fans’ frustration tonight at the Wells Fargo Center was when Iguodala missed two free throws late in the game, drawing “Boo”s from the crowd and even chants of  “We want our $13 million back!”.

Howard grabs the ball from Iguodala, exercising his fourth quarter dominance.

Again, for the Magic, Davis led the way with 23 points and also had 12 rebounds. Big D seems to have recovered from the awkwardness of Thursday’s press conference, scoring 20 points, grabbing 22 rebounds, and dishing out six assists. He may have only shot 4-14 (29%) from the field and 12-18 (66.7%) from the line, but it was his paint dominance over Brand and Hawes that was a sight to see. Redick also had 19 points on 7-13 shooting.

For the 76ers, Meeks and the under-appreciated Thaddeus Young were the only real bright spots. Meeks had 16 on 5-6 FG and 4-5 3-PT, while Young scored a team-high 20 while adding seven rebounds. Iguodala may have had 10 assists, and Hawes four blocks, but the two combined to shoot 5-20 from the field as the team shot under 40% as a whole.

Looking on, the Sixers play the Celtics on Sunday in a pivotal Atlantic Division matchup. The Celtics’ win over Indiana have them 2 games up on Philadelphia, which makes the upcoming game that much more important as the Sixers hope to avoid a rematch with the Miami Heat in Round 1.

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Categories: 76ers

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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