ORLANDO, Fla. — When opportunity knocked Sunday night, third-year forward Tobias Harris was more than happy to answer the door.
With veteran starting guards Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson sidelined due to injuries, Harris attacked from multiple angles, scoring a career-high 31 points to lead the Orlando Magic to a 92-81 victory over the hapless Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia lost its 14th consecutive game.
“I knew with guys out, we all had to do a little more, so my mindset was just to attack, play my heart out and whatever happens, happens,” Harris said. “I saw a lot of openings out there, and I wanted to take advantage of them.”
Harris added eight rebounds and three steals, doing as he pleased through much of the game. Magic center Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
The Magic (19-43) beat the Sixers (15-45) for the second time in five days, but they became the first team to score fewer than 100 points during Philadelphia’s losing streak, the longest in the NBA this season. Harris had only 13 points in the earlier victory at Philadelphia.
“We knew as a team, this was a game we had to win,” Harris said. “I’m trying to improve every game now, and I think I did that tonight. Being consistent is what it’s all about, doing it every night.”
The Sixers were led by forward Thaddeus Young, who had 29 points and eight rebounds. Rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams contributed 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes, outplaying Magic rookie guard Victor Oladipo, who had nine points and four assists in 39 minutes.
Philadelphia committed 13 turnovers in the second half, playing a key role in the late-game collapse, when a nine-point lead late in the third quarter dissolved quickly under the Magic’s increased defensive pressure.
Magic reserve guard E’Twaun Moore added 11 points — eight in the fourth quarter, playing a key role in Orlando’s late surge.
The Magic started the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run, opening a 79-71 lead with reserves Moore and forward Kyle O’Quinn each getting four points in that three-minute stretch. Orlando never trailed again.
The Sixers made just five of 18 shots (27.8 percent) in the fourth quarter. They committed six turnovers and scored only 12 points in the period, dooming any chance of snapping their losing streak.
“We poked ourselves in the eye with our turnovers,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “Some of it is just frustration and forcing the ball. Our offense probably hurt us more than our defense, throwing the ball away and not knowing who to go to. Give Orlando credit. They raised their intensity, and it bothered us.”
The Magic, despite also having one of the league’s worst records, have won six of their past seven home games. They won only one of their past 17 road games.
Harris scored at least 20 points for the fourth time in six games. He is becoming one of the Magic’s more reliable scorers as they try to rebuild around a core of young players.
“He bailed us out a few times tonight,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “The ability to make shots like he does is crucial. He was efficient, and he just did a lot of things for us to help us win.”
The Sixers opened a 67-58 lead late in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by guard Tony Wroten. The Magic, though, closed the period with an 8-2 run, including four consecutive points by Harris.
The Sixers led 46-43 at halftime despite shooting only 37 percent from the field. Carter-Williams had 14 points and five rebounds before intermission.
Harris led everyone with 19 first-half points, and Vucevic had 13 rebounds before the break. The Sixers led by as many as eight points in the second quarter.
The Sixers, for three periods, played with more intensity than they did when they lost to the Magic in Philadelphia.
NOTES: The Magic were without PG Jameer Nelson (sore calf), who was instrumental in Wednesday’s victory over the Sixers in Philadelphia. G/F Arron Afflalo (sprained right ankle) missed his fifth consecutive game. In their absence, G Ronnie Price got his first start of the season, and his first playing time since the end of January. We finished scoreless in 24 minutes. … This was the fourth and final meeting between Sixers G Michael Carter-Williams and Magic G Victor Oladipo, the two leading contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year. Entering Sunday, Carter-Williams led all rookies in points (17.1 per game), rebounds (5.3 per game) and assists (6.2 per game). … . March 2 was the 52nd anniversary of the famed 100-point game of Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain. He did it against the New York Knicks at the Hershey (Pa.) Sports Arena, and it is still considered one of the greatest records in sports history. … Both teams were coming off lopsided losses Saturday night. The Magic fell by 14 to Miami, while the Sixers lost by 19 to Washington. … The Sixers’ losing streak is their longest losing in 17 years.
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