Without Joel Embiid the Sixers looked to keep the winning streak alive against the Orlando Magic. Embiid had a scheduled day of rest as he will during all back-to-back games. Furkan Korkmaz would get the start Wednesday night in his place.
This game marked the first time Markelle Fultz would play against the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia drafted Fultz with the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. If you’re wondering why he is already on another team, the short answer is, it didn’t work out.
Both teams started out looking to push the issue. A great sight to see, Tobias Harris wasted no time at all to collect his first points. Upholding tradition, the Sixers made Evan Fournier look like James Harden early, allowing him to score with ease. The Sixers quickly found themselves in an eight-point hole as they had trouble stopping anyone defensively.
It may have been early but James Ennis was having himself a game. Playing terrific on both sides of the ball, Ennis was looking to shine. The Magic ended the quarter shooting 57.9% from the floor and 80% from three. Keeping that in mind, the Sixers were amazingly only behind by one point.
The Sixers bench was once again playing well as nearly everyone off the bench made an instant impact. Ennis was scoring, Thybulle defending, Neto playmaking and O’Quinn was finding open men left and right.
Defending at a higher level, the Sixers were pulling themselves back into the game. Offensively, the Sixers were still struggling. They could not find a way to work the ball in the paint and when they did, they had trouble garnering enough contact to draw the refs attention.
With the Sixers up three, something extremely unlikely happened. In the final seconds, Aaron Gordon managed to hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Thanks to Gordon, we had a new game at the start of the second half as the Sixers and Magic were tied 53-53.
Coming out of the half, the Sixers looked lackadaisical. The offense looked uninspired and the defense barely managed to keep them in the game. As the quarter progressed, the offense began to become more and more effective. The Sixers eventually became more aggressive and finally started forcing the refs to blow the whistle.
Things got a little chippy with Michael Carter-Williams dangerously fouling Richardson from behind and getting called for the flagrant foul. After that, Carter-Williams fouled Richardson again but when he did, Richardson shoved him away causing Richardson to be assessed a technical foul. Carter-Williams was clearly in Richardson’s head and drew and easy loose-ball foul against Richardson. Regaining the lead, the Sixers managed to end the quarter up by two.
The start of the fourth quarter wasn’t kind to the Sixers as they had two quick turnovers and two quick fouls. The Sixers were not letting one player, in particular, have their number but, the Magic always had another player to go to as seven different players scored 10 or more points.
The Sixers, now down by one, had to play catch up in the final nine minutes. With Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris back into the game, the Sixers looked to make that final push.
Turnovers continued to plague the Sixers more and more as Tobias Harris turned it over on back-to-back plays. Shooting was an issue as well as they started one for their first seven. The Sixers collapsed defensively though allowing the Magic to score at will.
The game soon got away from the Sixers and they tapped out with just over a minute left. Their minds were already shifted to their next game.
Poor shooting leads to poor outcome
The Sixers shot below 30% from the three-point line and it clearly affected the outcome. No one expected this team to lead the league in threes but it’s impossible for a team in today’s NBA to win a game like this. Somehow, someway, the Sixers need to improve their shooting.
What happened to Harris?
Tobias Harris had another off game tonight and you just have to wonder, what happened? This is a player who was known as a three-point sniper. Ever since Harris joined the Sixers he has lost his shooting touch and it seems like his effectiveness has just dropped more and more.
Harris is a great guy and a very good NBA player but his fit has to be questioned more and more with every game where he performs like this. Is it the coaching? Is it Harris? Does it matter? Either way, if Harris does not improve he may find himself on his sixth NBA team come the trade deadline.
Better luck next time
The Sixers will look to storm back with a better performance against the Thunder this Friday at 8:00 PM EST. Watch live on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listen on 97.5 FM the Fanatic.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports