ORLANDO - The 76ers are a battered and, it can be argued on rare occasions, frustrated group.
Both of those characteristics were visible Sunday evening. Yet they overcame a depleted roster and a heated exchange between their marquee players in a 96-88 victory over the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
"We needed to reclaim our spirit," said coach Brett Brown, whose Sixers won for just the third time in this season's 26 games. "We didn't have our spirit the last two games. . . . We reclaimed that.
"I felt we played with energy. We played with passion. It's fantastic for that group that it translated into a win."
In the process, the Sixers (3-23) snapped a five-game losing streak. All three of their victories have come on the road.
This one came with just nine available players due to ailments to shooting guard Hollis Thompson (upper respiratory infection) and reserve power forward Furkan Aldemir (plantar fasciitis in right heel). Undrafted rookie JaKarr Sampson started in place of Thompson.
But the spotlight was on center Nerlens Noel and point guard Michael Carter-Williams once they got into a heated first-quarter exchange on the bench.
The childhood friends and former AAU teammates from the Boston area argued over an undisclosed subject while walking off the court during a timeout. The conversation continued when they got to the bench and escalated into a heated exchange while Noel was seated and Carter-Williams stood in front of him.
"It was just really frustration, miscommunication, and we fixed it," said Noel, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. "And we started to improve our play."
The argument ended when assistant coach Chad Iske stepped in to talk to Noel. Brown said he loved the heated exchange.
"It's the most real environment when you got two Boston guys that grew up with each other. They got a situation they are going to talk it through," the coach said. "Think of how many AAU games they played with each other.
"I call them 617. That's the [Boston] area code. . . . They were trying to figure it out. And it's teammates talking to teammates. And it's real."
The duo quickly got over their spat. Noel even helped Carter-Williams up from the court after he was knocked to the floor on a hard foul.
"We've got into it before. This isn't the first time," said Carter-Williams, who finished with a team-high 21 points and six assists. "It's not anything negative. We got into it, and it's over after that. It's not like we are little kids and we are going out there not passing each other the ball.
"It's over and done with, and we move on."
The Sixers battled back from an 11-point deficit, thanks to a 22-7 run and took a 64-60 lead into the fourth quarter. They extended their lead to 14 points (78-64) on Carter-Williams' three-pointer with 7 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.
The Sixers won this game because of a group effort. All nine available players were on the floor for at least 15 minutes. The Sixers also held a 52-43 rebounding advantage.
Backup center Henry Sims (12 points, 12 rebounds) and swingman Robert Covington (11 points, 10 rebounds) joined Noel, the center, with double-double efforts.
Victor Oladipo paced the Magic (10-20) with a game-high 23 points. Former Sixer Nik Vucevic finished with 19 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.