Magic beat 76ers in overtime
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It doesn’t take much to make a bad team happy.
The Orlando Magic, who have struggled throughout a disappointing season, celebrated their first back-to-back victories since late December after beating the Philadelphia 76ers 112-109 in overtime Monday night.
“Winning two in a row might not seem like a big deal, but when you haven’t done it in three months, it is a big deal,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s important to us. We’re happy about it. We are trying to build a winning culture, so everything matters.”
Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 26 points and 13 rebounds. He had 18 points and 17 rebounds in Saturday’s victory in Phoenix. Evan Fournier had 19 points, including seven in overtime, Monday night.
Aaron Gordon scored 17 points, Terrence Ross added 15 points, and Elfrid Payton had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Center Rashaun Holmes led the Sixers with 24 points and 14 rebounds, both career highs. Robert Covington scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Dario Saric scored 18 points before fouling out with 3:52 remaining. Reserve Nik Stauskas had 20 points, and T.J. McConnell scored 16 points.
The Sixers, who started with just nine players in uniform, finished the game with six players after Saric, Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot all fouled out.
“We were the aggressors tonight,” Fournier said. “We knew they fouled a lot, so we tried to take advantage and attack. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy, but it was a big win for us. Every win means something to us.”
The Magic trailed by as many as 16 points in the third quarter, but they dominated the fourth by outscoring the Sixers 24-15. The Magic hit 38 of 46 free throws, while the Sixers took just 24 and made 22 of them. In the fourth quarter and overtime combined, the Magic hit 19 of 20 free throws, compared to just 1 of 2 for the Sixers.
“Give the credit to them,” Holmes said. “They never stopped fighting. They kept executing their things. They played hard, made their run and got back into the game, and we didn’t respond. That’s on us.”
Ross made a jumper with 34 seconds remaining in overtime for a 106-104 lead the Magic never lost. He added a pair of free throws for a 108-104 lead with 17 seconds remaining.
Stauskas hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining that pulled the Sixers within one point, but the Magic finished with two free throws from Fournier and two from Jodie Meeks.
“Give Orlando credit,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “We had our chances, but we had a hard time trying to close it out and execute in the fourth quarter. You can see how games change in the fourth.”
Holmes had tied the game at 101 with a 3-pointer, and Covington tied it at 104-104 with another 3-pointer with 45 seconds remaining.
Both teams botched a chance to score at the end of regulation, sending it into overtime tied at 98.
Philadelphia’s Justin Anderson hit one of two free throws with 20 seconds to go to tie the game at 98. The Magic had a turnover with five seconds left when Fournier’s pass to Vucevic was intercepted. Anderson then lost the ball on a drive as time expired.
The Sixers led by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter, but Ross scored nine points in the period and the Magic cut the deficit to 83-74.
Holmes, who was averaging just 8.8 points this season, had 17 points by intermission when the Sixers built a 56-41 lead. They made just 2 of 12 shots from 3-point range but still dominated the first two periods. The Magic missed all six 3-point attempts and committed 10 turnovers in the first half.
The Magic led 30-29 early in the second period before the Sixers made a 20-6 run that was sparked by Holmes and Saric, who had 13 points in the first half.
Vucevic had 14 points and Gordon 11 points in the first half. The Magic made only 16 of 42 shots in the first two periods.
Payton played only seven minutes in the first half after getting his third person foul midway in the first period.
NOTES: Magic veteran G Jodie Meeks returned to action Monday for the first time since dislocating his right thumb on Jan. 18. Meeks also missed the first 19 games of the season recovering from foot surgery in the summer. “I‘m just happy to be playing again,” Meeks said. “It’s been an ugly season for me, but I‘m happy to be healthy again.” . . . The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan “is likely to be fired after the season.” Clippers coach Doc Rivers has distanced himself from having any interest in the front office job with the Magic, where he once coached. The names of former Magic players Grant Hill and Pat Garrity, working in the front offices of Atlanta and Detroit, respectively, are being mentioned as possible replacements for Hennigan. . . . Sixers C Jahlil Okafor missed the game Monday with a sore right knee after he played just 12 minutes Sunday against Boston. . . . Sixers rookie F Dario Saric scored in double figures Monday for his 20th consecutive game, the longest streak of 10 or more points by a rookie in the NBA this season. . . . Sixers F Justin Anderson didn’t arrive in Orlando until 4:30 Monday afternoon, staying in Philadelphia until the last minute because of stomach problems.