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Sixers-Magic observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: T.J. McConnell, Arron Afflalo, and Nik Vucevic's horrid second-half shooting

T.J. McConnell equaled his season high with 15 points and had season-bests of 13 assists and seven rebounds to go with three steals and one block.

Sixers guard T.J. McConnell dribbles between Orlando guard Elfrid Payton (left) and forward Aaron Gordon on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017.
Sixers guard T.J. McConnell dribbles between Orlando guard Elfrid Payton (left) and forward Aaron Gordon on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 130-111 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Five observations

  1. T.J. McConnell is one of the most underpaid players in the NBA. The third-year veteran keeps proving that he's worth more than the about $1.4 million he's making this season. Saturday night was the latest example. McConnell finished with his sixth career double-double and first of the season while starting at point guard in place of the injured Ben Simmons (left elbow). McConnell equaled his season high with 15 points and had season-bests of 13 assists and seven rebounds to go with three steals and one block.

  2. J.J. Redick and McConnell are a solid pair. Totally in sync, the duo looked like they've been playing together for years. McConnell kept feeding the Sixers' top free-agent acquisition in the right spots during their first start together. That enabled Redick to finish with a game-high 29 points. The shooting guard also tied his season high for three-pointers made with eight in 12 attempts. Redick scored 12 of his points in the second quarter. Redick's six first-half three-pointers are most by any player in a half at the arena.

  3. As has been the case all season, the Sixers did a great job of sharing the ball. They finished with 35 assists on 48 made baskets. This marked the fourth time this season they had at least 30 assists in a game. The only squads with more are the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans.

  4. The Sixers had their best game handling the ball. They finished with a season-low 11 turnovers. That's a major accomplishment for a squad that averages a league-worst 17.2 per game. This was the seventh time since the 1983-84 season that the Sixers recorded at least 35 assists compared to 11 or fewer turnovers.

  5. Joel Embiid is turning into a double-double machine. He finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists to post his third consecutive double-double and fifth in the last six games. In all, he has nine on the season. Embiid also joined Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James as the league's only players with multiple games with at least 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists.

‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards

  1. Best performance: McConnell receives this award. The undrafted player put his imprint on the game from the start, assisting on the Sixers' first three baskets. He had five assists after one quarter and nine in the first half. It was his first double-double since recording 10 points and 10 assists in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on April 8 last season. It was the sixth of his career.

  2. Worst performance:  This was a tough one, but I had to give it to Arron Afflalo for his invisible man impersonation. The Magic were basically playing four-on-five basketball during the 7 minutes, 45 seconds he played. The reserve guard didn't attempt a shot, grab a rebound, record an assist, or even commit a turnover. The foul he committed is the only evidence that he played.

  3. Best defensive performance: Aaron Gordon gets this for his two athletic blocks. The Magic power forward's first block came on Embiid's layup attempt with six minutes left in the half. Gordon's other came on Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot's attempted layup with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter.

  4. Worst statistic: This goes to Orlando's shooting 67.7 percent from the foul line. The crazy thing is the Magic made 10 of 12 foul shots (83.3 percent) in the first half. However, they made just 11 of 19 (57.9 percent) after intermission.

  5. Best statistic: This goes to the Sixers' scoring a season-high 130 points. It's also the most points the franchise has scored against the Magic.

  6. Worst of the worst: I had to give this to Nik Vucevic's second-half shooting. The Magic center finished the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds for his fourth straight and ninth double-double of the season. However, there was nothing special about his shooting performance after intermission. That's when the former Sixer missed four of his five attempts.