Phew. To call tonight’s game ugly would be an understatement. A win is a win though, and the 78-61 victory over Orlando is the third consecutive for the Sixers.
On a night the Magic were missing their leading four scorers, their struggles were expected. The Sixers, however, continued their first quarter success since inserting Nick Young into the starting line-up. As ugly as the first quarter was, the game was in control. About halfway through the second quarter, tragedy struck. Thaddeus Young went down, clearly in a lot of pain, right in front of the Sixers’ bench. Reports are that it is just a hamstring strain, but the initial look was not promising. The game would continue though.
In the second half, the Sixers took control of a short-handed Magic squad. Orlando shot just 33.8% from the field, and were just 1-12 from three-point range. In the absence of Redick, Nelson, Davis, and Harrington, E’Twaun Moore showed some promise. He scored 18 points on 9-17 shooting. Nik Vucevic had a strong first half in his return to Philly, scoring 9 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The second half was a different story for the second-year man though, not scoring a single point.
With Thad unable to return to the game, Spencer Hawes was the best player on the court. Yes, that is correct. Spencer Hawes was the best player tonight. In 37 minutes of work, Hawes scored 21 points to go along with 14 rebounds. It seemed as though he was everywhere at once, but he kept everything simple. He got to his spots on the court, found the soft spot in the defense, rebounded well, and added one emphatic dunk in transition.
Jrue Holiday’s performance was another bright spot that Doug Collins can take from the win. With just 13 points, Jrue added 14 assists with just one turnover. Holiday was coming off a season-high 8 turnover performance against Sacramento. He did an excellent job of taking care of the ball and finding the open teammate. Those 14 assists could’ve been added to if the open shots were falling. Luckily, the Sixers didn’t need them against the Magic. Either way, 14 assists for one player on a night the team only scores 78 points is impressive.
With all that said, the Sixers scored just 78 points against a below average team to be nice. They were 3-20 from three-point range, and once again rarely got to the line. After the first quarter, neither team had taken a free throw, and the Sixers ended the game with just five attempts. A win is a win, but things must change if there are postseason aspirations.