Philadelphia 76ers Get Buzzed by Orlando Magic


38. 89. 93. Final. 91

L,L,L,L,L – As tough it was to watch a last second shot by the Orlando Magic’s (1-4) Tobias Harris at the buzzer, it was not nearly as excruciating as the other 47 minutes and 59 seconds.

How “bad” are the Orlando Magic? Bad enough to be losing by a point after the first quarter of play vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. Bad enough that with many turnovers, they were trailing after a very difficult first quarter to watch.

The Sixers led after one by the score of 26-25. In regards to the Magic, this may sound a little harsh, but consider that the 76ers (really struggling in every way) were suffering through the first quarter. It was mostly self-inflicted. This was worst the Sixers have played thus far and they picked the wrong night to do it.

How bad are the Sixers right now? They are unique. Philadelphia missed layups, turned the ball over, didn’t get back on defense, fouled, did not defend individually or as a team, and refused to rotate and help. Project Hinkie just went from long term to a longer term project. The Sixers, I must face it, have players on the floor that do not belong in the NBA. In essence, it is not even fair to lend criticism.

Tony Wroten has a lot of heart, plays to win, and with a tremendous will to compete, but he nearly averages five turnovers a game. As much grit as he has, he tends to play alone, always looking for attempts.

Alexey Shved is an asset but if he cannot get rhythm touches for catch and shoots or get totally free to shoot from long range, he’s not performing at maximum capacity.

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Malcolm Thomas shot an errant layup, hustled in defensive transition but seemed to miss his assignment. Then he tried to communicate his verbal responsibility to his teammates, but they all looked rather uninterested or confused. This was a microcosm of the transition or conversion defense in the entire first half.

To start the second quarter, Wroten played well. Maybe he responds well to being being sat down. He got an early steal and made two fine assists, including a lob play to K.J. McDaniels in transition.

Nov 3, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown draws up a play against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Rockets defeated the 76ers 104-93. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This game featured 10 lead changes and 10 ties at halftime. You would think that translates into exciting and competitive basketball. Not so. This is difficult to accomplish, but not with 23 turnovers, I suppose. The Magic had 14 turnovers and the Sixers had 9. Furthermore, the 76ers failed to convert on a 3-on-1 break.

K.J. McDaniels was the first half bright spot. He played well at both ends of the court. He included a big time blocked shot of the Orlando 7-footer Nikola Vučević. 

At halftime, Brett Brown remarked that he “couldn’t believe [the Sixers] are in the game . . . we have been given a gift  . . . our transition defense has been poor.” Even before that however, it was bad shots and missed layups leading to this transition issue.

The third quarter featured a confident Brandon Davies, who knocked down stationary spot ups. He showed poise and played well offensively.

Wroten continued to get hot from three-point range. He finished with a valiant 27 points.

Nikola Vučević  got off to a bad start to the third quarter. He shot poorly, turned it over and received a technical. He turned it around quickly and started to go right at and through Henry Sims. Vučević finsihed with 17 points. Orlando out-rebounded Philly 51-38. It showed in crunch time.

Again, not all close games are good games: it was 52-52 at halftime and 75-75 at the end of the third quarter, but very uneventful. Moreover, you would think that a game that had a final score of 91-89 would be a defensive battle. Not so much. The game also finished with a combined 44 turnovers by both squads.

To start the fourth, Coach Brown reminded his team not to be hesitant. He told them to realize that Orlando arrived in Philly late last night. They were tired and there for the taking.

A wide open Chris Johnson had a corner rhythm three attempt with the 76ers down by two 79-77. The shot basically came down to focus. Malik Rose was stunned that Johsnon (0-for-3 from three) missed it with 9:37 left in the game. The miss led to a Magic basket by veteran Ben Gordon. Another miss by K.J. McDaniels led to another Gordon field goal. Just like that, the Magic went on another run of 6-0. They had a 9-0 run in the first half.

Tony Wroten was called for an offensive foul with under five minutes to play; it was a horrendous call. Also, seconds later, Wroten took an actual charge and they didn’t give it to him. These are the breaks of a struggling team.

Additionally, the refs stopped making calls somewhere along the line. Perhaps they made a pact at halftime to get out of there as soon as possible. Both teams deserved more respect than the effort shown by the officials in the second half. It was not funny. It was not the greatest job by the coaches either. Add the players to all of this and you have a symphony.

20-year-old Orlando rookie guard Elfrid Payton proved to be Orlando’s true hero tonight, well before the buzzer beater. He had two timely steals and one key rebound vs two Sixer bigs. He did all of this while down 87-85 with less than 1:30 to play.

At the start of the season, I was somewhat optimistic. I wanted to refuse to believe that the Sixers could beat the franchise record for losses. I wanted to believe that they could win 15 games in the face of the conventional wisdom that said in between 8 and 13 wins. I thought they would try to win games vs. the Bucks, the Magic and the like; and THEN use all of the other games for experimentation and development.

Next up for the 76ers are the Chicago Bulls, an obviously tough team, on Friday night. It is also “Stars and Stripes Night.” The Sixers also take part in “Hoops for Troops.”

The Lakers, Detroit, Orlando and the Sixers entered the game without a win in the NBA. I hope the 76ers are not the lonely number one by week’s end, but very well may be . . .

Some good news: Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams is due back at practice tomorrow and will be activated to play a week from today. This could help matters.