ORLANDO - By Saturday night, the Orlando Magic looked like an entirely different team than they had only 24 hours earlier.
In back-to-back deals with the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards, the Magic traded four of their top nine players, including two starters.
For Saturday night's game against the 76ers, Orlando had a makeshift starting lineup and a limited bench.
Early on Saturday afternoon, news broke that the Magic traded starting shooting guard Vince Carter, big man Marcin Gortat, forward Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick, and cash to the Suns for guard Jason Richardson, forward Hedo Turkoglu, and guard Earl Clark. Simultaneously, it was reported that the Magic would then trade starting forward Rashard Lewis to the Wizards for guard Gilbert Arenas.
Orlando, which entered the game with a record of 16-9, officially announced both deals just hours before Saturday night's tip-off.
"It gives us a better chance to win the basketball game, that's obvious," said Sixers guard Lou Williams. "You take two of their starters away, two of their key components, it always gives you a better opportunity."
In lieu of Carter and Lewis, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy started guard J.J. Redick and forward Quentin Richardson.
The rearranged lineup changed some of the game-planning for Sixers coach Doug Collins, who anticipated worrying about Lewis' ability to spread the floor as a power forward and Carter's post-up ability against Sixers shooting guard Jodie Meeks. The matchup of Meeks vs. Redick created a more traditional battle of shooting guards.
Before the game, Van Gundy called the trade of Lewis, who's been with Orlando since 2007, "probably one of the hardest ones I've been a part of, if not the hardest."
"I like what we have done in the deals, I really do, but it's not easy to see those guys go," Van Gundy said.
The focus of the trades, Van Gundy said, was acquiring players who could create off the dribble. In Richardson and Arenas, whose days in Washington have been numbered since last season's gun incident, the Magic have done that.
"I think we got a little younger, we got a little more athletic, and we got some guys who could put the ball on the floor and make plays," Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy called the timing of the trade "challenging."
"Obviously being right in the middle of things, we're not in a break where we get a lot of practice time," Van Gundy said. "Those guys will probably play two games before they even have a practice with us. As far as working them in, it's going to be on the fly."
After Friday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Collins called Meeks a "feast or famine" kind of player. Against the Lakers, Meeks shot 1 for 7 from the floor, 0 for 3 from beyond the arc. In his previous four games entering Saturday night against the Magic, Meeks was a combined 9 for 38 from the floor, 3 for 17 from the three-point line.
Saturday's game was the first of eight consecutive road games for the Sixers, who will not play at the Wells Fargo Center again until Jan. 5. The stretch includes games against the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, Suns, Golden State Warriors, Lakers, and New Orleans Hornets.