Orlando is a formidable opponent with legitimate hopes of making a trip to the NBA Finals. The 76ers are still very young, trying to build towards the future with aspirations of a bottom playoff seed. So it comes as no surprise that the Magic snuck by with a victory against the Sixers.
Except this game, like so many others, the Sixers had in the bag but still managed to some how come out on the losing end. After a questionable four point play by Jason Richardson at the end of regulation, the Sixers and Magic went into overtime tied at 90 a piece but Orlando came out victorious 99-98 after the extra period. The win bumps the Magic to 27-15 and credits them with seven wins in the last 10 ball games. For the 7-6 it marks another gut wrenching loss and drops their record to 17-24.
With the Bobcats game the night after in Charlotte, the Sixers have to quickly heal their wounds from this loss and refocus. They were able to pull off a victory against them at the Wells-Fargo Center on Martin Luther King Day. But now have to resurface and play with little rest and a late night plane flight from Orlando to Charlotte. Philadunkia’s home team are 5-17 at opposing stadiums o n the year. That horrific road record could’ve been bolstered had it not been for a last night’s collapse.
It was one of the sloppiest fourth quarters we’vewitnessed this season. For most of the fourth quarter we struggled, starting off going 4/15 from the field, turning the ball over four times and missing easy buckets at the rim. However, with 2:15 remaining — thanks to Dwight Howard missing five fourth quarter free throws and then fouling out — we were still in the contest. At that moment, sparked behind two incredibly tough jumpers from Jrue Holiday, we went on a 9-2 run to grab a 89-84 lead with :28 seconds remaining.
Game, set, match, right? Wrong! Not with this ball club. Not once has this team displayed that being up late in a game, with limited time remaining is a safe bet. It has happened too much to us this year, where we’ve blown a lead. That’s the difference between us and good teams.
After a J.J. Redick layup the lead was trimmed down to 89-86. Lou Williams approached the charity stripe and missed one of the two. With :22 seconds left after an Orlando timeout a play was drawn for Jason Richardson to run off a screen and shoot a trey-ball. J-Rich ran the play well faded away on a three, nailed it while picking up a questionable AND 1 foul from an AI9 reach. Say what you want about the minimal contact (shouldn’t of been a foul) but Igoudala should’ve contested with his hand in the sky and not reaching the ball. A silly mistake which resulted in a four point play and a tie ball game.
With the game on the line for the third consecutive game Lou Williams took the final shot, although this game he was no hero. Settling for a fade-a-way, 25 foot three (with the much larger Brandon Bass guarding him) that teased every Sixers fan bouncing on the rim four times and nearly dropping in. Instead we took the Howard-less Magic into overtime after failing to seize a victory.
Andre Igoudala accounted for all eight of the Sixers points in overtime including three field goals and an assist to Thaddeus Young. With :20 seconds remaining and down 99-98, head coach Doug Collins elected not to take a timeout following a Jameer Nelson miss. Igoudaladribbled to the top of the key and melted the clock down to about nine ticks when he began to attack the basket. He settled for a tough bank shot that rimmed in-and-out. What ensued was an Evan Turner offensive rebound, a hurried, off balance shot and you guessed it, another miss.
Igoudala and Lou Williams’ game winning attempts nearly went through but just took an unfortunate bounce. Nonetheless the ball game should’ve never gotten to that point and should’ve been closed out in the winding minutes of the fourth with Dwight Howard fouled out.
Losing to Orlando on paper is not a bad loss. But with the transgressions that transpired in that particular game, which saw Dwight Howard foul out and play limited minutes, it would’ve been nice to capitalize on a grand opportunity. Especially in overtime when Dwight was out for the entire five minutes.
Dwight scored 18 points and collected seven rebounds on the night. However when he was in the game he caused a nuisance for the 7-6 bigs. Whether it was Marreese Speights, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes or Tony Battie, none of them stood a chance guarding Dwight. Rather than trying to guard him, they relegated to hacking and sending him to the free throw line where he connected on 10-22 free throws. In hindsight, it seems like the right strategy.
Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams led the charge producing a combined 38 points off the bench. The bench was assisted by Evan Turner as well, who at times displayed flashes of serious game that we haven’t seen all year. Turner, with Howard not patrolling the paint thanks to foul trouble, attacked the basket relentlessly. The Sixers bench outscored the Magic bench 52-34.
One of those bench players was the X-factor for the Magic. Forward Ryan Anderson put together a grand effort scoring 20 points on 8-15 shooting. Anderson’s nine points in the fourth quarter allowed the Magic to stay within reach of the 76ers and later surpass them.
What was a sloppy game for the majority of the first three quarters ended on a thrilling note. Unfortunately for the 76ers, when games end on a thrilling note it seems the win tilts in the other teams’ favor.
They get Charlotte again tonight but they’ll be playing their third game in four nights, with the previous two both going into overtime so the squad may be worn out physically.
After last night’s L, the 7-6 may be toast mentally as well.
- Do we even need to discuss the shot attempt Lous Williams chucked up at the end of regulation? It’s literally like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Final seconds, Sixers need a bucket to win or tie and you can bet the house that either Louis or ‘Dre will settle for a long range, off balance jumper that shockingly (not really) does not fall. Last night, Brandon Bass ended up on Louis because the Magic got caught on a switch. Yet with the score tied at 90 and the clock winding down, Louis still chose to hoist up a 3-ball instead of blowing by the 6-8, 250 pound forward and hitting a lay up or getting fouled. That’s just bad basketball folks, but we’ve seen it time and again from the 7-6 this season.
- Of course NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers latest brutal L. Watch the clips only if you have a strong stomach.