Sixers allow Magic to storm back as winning streak ends

Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero (5) dunks the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers came into Monday’s matchup against the Orlando Magic as winners of a league-high seven straight games. After an impressive victory over the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets, the Sixers were set up for what should have been a light night’s work. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Early in the game, the Sixers dominated Orlando thanks to a stifling performance by Philadelphia’s defense which only allowed 17 points in the first quarter. Along with the impressive defensive effort, the Sixers’ offensive stars started hot as well, scoring 25 of the team’s first 30 points, leading by double-digits heading into the second quarter.

From there, the Sixers began to unravel, losing the second quarter by three points before falling apart in the third quarter. Philadelphia’s defense split at the seams as rookie sensation Paolo Banchero had his way, showing off his offensive prowess at every turn. Banchero scored 14 points in the third alone en route to his 29-point performance on the night.

Come the fourth quarter; the Sixers would open on a seven-to-one run allowing the Sixers to retake the lead early on. That lead would not last long, however, as the game’s final quarter would be inexplicably dominated by backup center Mo Wagner.

Scoring a shocking 15 points in the fourth, Wagner completely wedge himself under the skin of the Sixers, in particular Joel Embiid, causing Philadelphia to sloppily rush their way to an eventual loss. As a unit, the Sixers looked flustered in the final minutes of the game and suffered from a variety of self-inflicted wounds as they eventually fell by a score of 119 — 109.

The Sixers did themselves no favors in this game, turning the ball over 19 total times, five alone in the fourth quarter. Looking back, it’s not overly surprising to see Philadelphia suffer a hangover of sorts after defeating the Denver Nuggets on Saturday and celebrating the Eagles’ victory in the NFC Championship the very next night.

Philadelphia will have a chance to right this disappointing wrong Wednesday night as they once again host Orlando. Hopefully, the team will find its bearings between now and then.