Magic push around the listless Sixers
It was just another night in 76ersville. The 76ers showed promise while Joel Embiid was on the floor. Then they struggled when he wasn't. And on Friday night, that led to a 105-88 drubbing by the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center.
It was just another night in 76ersville.
The 76ers showed promise while Joel Embiid was on the floor. Then they struggled when he wasn't. And on Friday night, that led to a 105-88 drubbing by the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center.
"We've got to be able to sustain our play whatever lineups we got," Sixers shooting guard Gerald Henderson said, "because he's not going to be in there extended periods of time. . . . We just got to find what it looks like for us on the offensive and defensive end."
Henderson thinks it's more of an effort mind-set and attention-to-detail when Embiid isn't on the court.
Whatever it was Friday dropped the Sixers to 4-15 heading into Saturday night's home matchup against the Boston Celtics. They will look to snap a five-game losing streak.
The Magic (8-12) are 2-0 in this season's head-to-head meetings with the Sixers. On this night, Orlando made a season-high 13 three-pointers. Eight came in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Aaron Gordon paced the Magic with 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Embiid finished with a game-high 25 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists for his fifth double-double of the season.
Jahlil Okafor, who backs up Embiid at center, added 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Embiid and Okafor were paired together on the court during stretches in the second and fourth quarters. They were effective during a 5-minute, 29-second spell in the second quarter.
The Sixers outscored the Magic, 12-9, during that time with the duo combining to score all of their points. Embiid made two three-pointers and an 11-foot jumper. Meanwhile, Okafor scored on a layup and a dunk.
"Getting an opportunity to play against another opponent when where playing together, I think it went well overall," Okafor said. "It was kind of a funky game. We were missing a lot of easy shots. We went on kind of a field-goal drought in the first quarter. It seems like we were never able to get it going."
That's because, the Sixers, who shot 37.9 percent, were a completely different team without Embiid on the floor.
The field-goal drought that Okafor mentioned occurred after Embiid left the game with his team up, 9-3, with 8 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first quarter. The Magic responded with a 16-0 run to take a 19-9 lead with 56 seconds left in the quarter. Embiid was on the floor for the last seven points on the run.
Another example of the team's ineffectiveness without him was the third quarter. The teams scored 13 points apiece before Embiid went to the bench with 5:56 in the quarter. With him on the bench, the Magic outscored the Sixers, 19-6, the rest of the quarter.
"When you are sort of feeling the gym, you feel like you have a presence that's taken away," Sixers coach Brett Brown said of when Embiid's not on the floor. "That math confirms that apart from the feeling I certainly have as a coach and you have when you are doing your job."
But there is nothing the Sixers can really do about it. Embiid's minutes are restricted to 28 minutes due to missing the previous two seasons with right foot surgeries. He will sit out Saturday's matchup because it's the second game of a back-to-back situation.
But Embiid's effect isn't surprising.
The 7-foot-2, 276-pounder came into the contest averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks. He was named the Eastern Conference rookie of the month for October and November.
However, Embiid never thought he would have this type of impact.
"I just thought I would from game to game just come and show something, but not having the type of impact I have been having," he said after Friday's shootaround.
Embiid got comfortable when he held his own against the Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond on Oct. 15. His confidence grew after a solid performance against Oklahoma Thunder on Oct. 26.
"From that game on, I just felt like I could keep up with the other guys," he said.
Robert Covington suffered a left knee sprain in the fourth quarter and did not return. The Sixers small forward finished with nine points.