For the second straight game the Orlando Magic came back from a huge deficit on the road. Unlike Saturday’s effort that came up just short in Cleveland, Orlando defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 103-101 at the Wells Fargo Center.
To earn their first win of the season, and the first for Frank Vogel as Orlando’s coach, the Magic had to come all the way back from an 18-point deficit to secure their first victory. Two keys helped Orlando turn things around.
First, they stepped up their defense. The Sixers were getting almost anything they wanted in the first half as they roared to a 57-43 lead.
Orlando also found an offensive flow, as well as the effort to compete as hard as Philadelphia. The result was a 60-41 scoring advantage in the second half.
This game literally came down to the final play. With the score tied at 101, Philadelphia’s T.J. McConnell was called for a flagrant foul on Serge Ibaka with only 1.2 seconds to play.
Instead of merely fouling Ibaka, which would allow the Sixers to get off a final shot after the free throws, the flagrant call meant the Magic also receive the basketball after Ibaka made both free throws. Orlando was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock.
The Magic are showing some resilience in the way they come back from big deficits, especially on the road. The trick will be getting off to better starts in games going forward.
It is no coincidence Orlando wins when center Nikola Vucevic has a big game. On Tuesday he scored 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the team. He also added four assists.
“It was a tough one. We played bad,” said Vucevic. “But we came back, we put in a great effort all the way down to the last play.”
Ibaka had his best game in an Orlando uniform with 21 points. Elfrid Payton continued his strong play with a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists.
The Magic are now 1-3 and will go for their second straight win on Thursday night at Amway Center against the Sacramento Kings.