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Nelson leads Magic past 76ers

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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PHILADELPHIA — Jameer Nelson celebrated, of course, with a cheesesteak.

Playing just miles from his hometown of Chester, Pa., the Orlando Magic’s veteran guard feasted on the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night, too.

Nelson, who also played at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Magic beat the Sixers 101-90 to snap a 16-game road losing streak.

“‘Vintage,” to say it one word,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said of Nelson’s performance.

The 32-year-old Nelson, who made just 2 of 7 shots in the first three quarters, made 5 of 9 in the final period. He also handed out four of his 12 assists.

Afterward he visited with St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli in the visiting locker room before chowing down on his cheesesteak.

Nelson said it was “definitely special” to break the long road losing streak, a franchise single-season record. And, he added, it is “always fun coming back.”

Asked how many friends and family members were in attendance, he said, “It wasn’t a lot this time — probably 60 or 70. It was like 600 one time.”

Center Nikola Vucevic, a former Sixer, had 21 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Magic (18-42), who improved to 4-27 on the road.

Guard Victor Oladipo added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando.

Forward Thaddeus Young had 19 points and guard Tony Wroten 15 to lead the Sixers (15-43), who lost their 12th straight. It was also their 11th straight defeat at home. They finished the month of February 0-11, their first winless month of four games or more since they went 0-13 in March 1973. That was the final month of their 9-73 season.

In a game featuring the teams with the NBA’s second- and third-worst records, Nelson snapped a 67-67 tie when he nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the circle 20 seconds into the fourth quarter. He added a jumper, a layup and another triple over the next 4:18 as Orlando outscored Philadelphia 21-10 to take an 88-77 lead with 7:22 left.

Asked what got him started after his struggles through the first three quarters, Nelson said, “Myself. … I don’t lack any confidence when I’m 2-for-7. I’m shooting that shot.”

Guard E’Twaun Moore and forward Andrew Nicholson also hit 3-pointers in the decisive run — the latter after Nelson found him in the right corner — and guard Doron Lamb sank three free throws while attempting another triple.

The Sixers closed within six, 92-86, on Young’s fast-break conversion with 4:12 remaining, but Oladipo nailed a 3-pointer and jumper as Orlando rattled off the next seven points to go up 99-86.

“It was a deterioration defensively,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “The last quarter got us.”

The lead changed hands 13 times during a dismal first half. The Sixers shot 34.7 percent but nonetheless established a 44-40 lead, largely because the Magic made just 33.3 percent of their attempts. It was the first time Philadelphia had led after two quarters since a Feb. 7 loss to the Lakers.

Young scored 10 points in the half for the Sixers, who outscored the Magic 12-4 over a five-minute stretch late in the second quarter to move in front.

Two of the players acquired at least week’s trade deadline were also effective. Center Henry Sims, making his first start for Philadelphia, had eight points and six rebounds, and backup point guard Eric Maynor contributed six points, three rebounds and a pair of assists.

Vucevic had 13 points and seven rebounds in the half for Orlando.

The Sixers extended their lead to eight early in the second half, only to see the Magic storm back behind Vucevic. He had a dunk, a layup, a tip-in and a block of Michael Carter-Williams’ dunk attempt as Orlando outscored Philadelphia 25-10 to take a 67-60 lead with 2:22 left in the third quarter.

The Sixers then rattled off the period’s last seven points — on Maynor’s 3-pointer, a dunk by forward Byron Mullens and Wroten’s two free throws — to tie it.

NOTES: The Sixers bought out the contract of F Danny Granger, acquired last week in a trade from Indiana. “Given Danny’s future goals and his desire to pursue them, we worked to fulfill his requests and have come to a resolution that we feel is mutually beneficial to both Danny and our organization,” general manager Sam Hinkie said in a statement. Added coach Brett Brown: “We wish him well. We worked with him. We talked a lot about treating people the way people should be treated — respecting his situation, listening to him and still running a business. Sam was able to do both of those things.” According to Yahoo Sports, the Los Angeles Clippers are the front-runners to sign Granger when he clears waivers on Friday. San Antonio, Miami, Houston, Dallas and Chicago also have interest. … Orlando G Arron Afflalo, the Magic’s leading scorer at 19.7 points a night, missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle. Afflalo notched a career-high 43 points in a 126-125 double-overtime loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 3.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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