The Orlando Magic looked like strong contenders to reach the NBA Finals on Friday January 20, after knocking the Los Angeles Lakers for a loop in a 92-80 victory at the Amway Center. Center Dwight Howard scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds as the Magic ended the evening with an 11-4 record and was on top of the NBA Southeast Division. Since that game the franchise from Orlando have resembled a Christmas toy that is low on batteries; as their offense has sputtered and stalled, causing them to lose five of their last six contests and their last four in a row. Monday night they shot an anemic 33.3% (26-78) as they fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 74-69.
The Magic could not get their offense in gear until the final 12 minutes of action and by that point of the contest it was far too little and far too late. Howard recorded a double-double with 17 points while Ryan Anderson also notched a double-double including 14 points for the night, but they would not receive the help they needed from the rest of the roster. The Sixers did not look like “World-Beaters” in this game by any stretch of the imagination; however they played just well enough to get the victory. Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with a double-double including 14 points for the night.
Both teams came out in the opening period looking offensively challenged as neither side could string together a run in the first 12 minutes of action. With 1:31 left to play Thaddeus Young knocked down a mid-range jumper and the Sixers held the advantage at 19-18 at the conclusion of the quarter. The scoring drought continued for both teams in the second as Philadelphia held the upper hand throughout the period, however they never led by more than five points. Once again Young would score the final basket of the quarter for his club, knocking down another mid-range jumper with 36 seconds remaining and the Sixers walked into their locker room on top 37-33 as the contest reached the half.
The two opponents returned to the floor for the third quarter; but the Magic could have done almost as well if they had stayed in the locker room. Orlando humiliated themselves as they could score just 9 points in the entire period. Philadelphia exploited the situation and held a 58-42 lead entering the fourth. The Magic found their shooting touch in the last 12 minutes of play scoring 27 points in the period, however it was not enough to avoid their fourth straight loss.
Iguodala knocked down 14 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals for the night. Evan Turner scored 12 points, 4 rebounds and an assist while Young added 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in the victory.
Howard put up 17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal. Anderson had 14 points and grabbed 20 boards while J.J. Redick added 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Philadelphia now stands at 15-6 and will host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday while Orlando now has a record of 12-9 and will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.