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Rift spurs 76ers to victory over Magic

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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ORLANDO, Fla. — A little internal conflict went a long way Sunday night for the Philadelphia 76ers.

A first-half rift between point guard Michael Carter-Williams and center Nerlens Noel — their two best players — turned into a second-half spark as the 76ers pounded the Orlando Magic, 96-88, Sunday night at the Amway Center.

It was just the third victory of the season for the previously hapless 76ers.

Williams led the way with 21 points and six assists. Noel had 13 points and 12 rebounds. In the second period, they had to be separated by teammates and coaches after a heated exchange on the bench.

“Whatever it takes to get us going. It was just a miscommunication, and we turned it into a positive,” Carter-Williams said. “It was over and done, something between teammates who both wanted to win.”

After trailing by 11 points midway in the third period, the Sixers went on a tear and outscored the Magic 22-7 in the next six minutes. They dominated the fourth quarter.

“There was some frustration early from the both of us, but we turned it into a positive,” Noel said. “We played even better, and it helped the team. In a positive way we reacted and continued to play harder. We fixed it.”

Reserve center Henry Sims had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and forward Robert Covington had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Tony Wroten had 10 points and seven assists.

The Sixers snapped a five-game losing streak as they outrebounded the Magic 52-42 and overcame their 19 turnovers.

The Magic were led by guard Victor Oladipo with 23 points. Center Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 17 rebounds, and forward Tobias Harris had 17 points.

The Magic (10-20) lost for the sixth time in the last seven games. They used their eighth different starting lineup this season, and the first with Oladipo and Elfrid Payton in the backcourt together. It didn’t work very well Sunday. Payton had one point and missed all seven field-goal attempts.

“You know this thing isn’t easy,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And overall as a group, maybe we thought it was going to be easy. There’s some reality now that’s setting in, and other teams are playing well.”

While the Magic lamenting their loss to the worst team in the league, the Sixers were reveling in victory as they started a seven-game, two-week road trip.

“It’s a great start to a West Coast trip because we have the big dogs coming up every night, so we have to stay focused on the trip,” Noel said. “This was a big one for us.”

All three of the Sixers victories this season have come away from home. And each one is savored.

“It’s always great to win, but when you aren’t winning very much, they mean a little more,” Carter-Williams said. “You go away from home, and all you’ve got is each other. Everyone is against you on the road, so you turn that into a positive.”

The Sixers led 78-64 after a 3-point basket by Carter-Williams midway in the final period. They led 92-78 after a basket by forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

The Sixers took a four-point lead into the final period. Although they trailed 53-42 early in the third, they went on a 22-7 run with a lineup made up primarily of reserves. Philadelphia guard K.J. McDaniels opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, and Sims followed with back-to-back baskets for the 71-60 lead.

The Magic led 42-37 at intermission, riding an improved defensive effort and a big second quarter from Harris, who had nine points in his eight minutes of playing time.

Carter-Williams had 10 points in the first half when he hit five of his first seven shots. His teammates, though, were cold and sloppy. The Sixers had 11 first-half turnovers that became 12 Magic points in those first two periods.

Oladipo and Harris each had nine points by intermission. Vucevic had six points and eight rebounds at halftime.

Noel had eight points and seven rebounds for the Sixers, who led by as many as five points early in the second period.

NOTES: Magic started G Victor Oladipo and G Elfrid Payton — their backcourt of the future — together for the first time this season and both seemed excited by the prospect. Oladipo, who played much of his rookie season at point guard, has moved to shooting guard. “If I see him with the ball, I can run the wings, and vice versa,” Payton said before the game. … Magic coach Jacque Vaughn also opted to use F Channing Frye and G Evan Fournier in reserve for the first time this season after they each had started all 28 previous games they played this season. F Kyle O’Quinn, who had served as the backup center, earned the start at power forward Sunday. … 76ers F JaKarr Sampson, who spent time in the D-League earlier this season, replaced F Hollis Thompson in the starting lineup Sunday. It was Sampson’s third start this season. … This was the first stop in a seven-game road trip for the 76ers, who don’t play at home again until Jan. 5.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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