Sixers 114, Magic 106: Sixers outlast Magic in another win without Joel Embiid



After a first half in which it seemed like neither team could miss, the second was a war of attrition

The Sixers eventually won the battle against the Magic, 114-106, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

In six games without Joel Embiid (knee) since the All-Star break, the Sixers are 4-2. They were also still without the services of Boban Marjanovic (knee) and were missing rookie Jonah Bolden (illness).

The victory improves the Sixers to 25-9 at home and 41-23 overall.

Here are observations from the win.

• The stats say otherwise, but it didn’t seem like either team missed a shot in the first half. Both teams shot over 55 percent from the field and were an identical 9 of 16 (56 percent) from three.

And it’s not like it was a layup line, either. Both teams were hitting long twos and threes. 

The third quarter was a different story as the Sixers held the Magic to 30 percent from the field and got out to a 94-82 lead. The Magic got it down to as little as one as the Sixers got cold late in the fourth.

• Welcome back, JJ Redick.

In the five games since the All-Star break, Redick was shooting 25 percent from the field and from three. Even his free throws were down to 83 percent — not that that’s bad, but the guy hovers around 90 percent for his career.

On Tuesday, he was 8 of 16 and 6 of 9 from beyond for 26 points.

Brett Brown did take some responsibility after the loss to the Warriors, saying that he needed to make sure Redick was being put in the best spots. It did appear that there was a concerted to get Redick the ball early.

More than that, this happens to shooters. It was a slump. For the Sixers’ sake, let’s hope he’s out of it.

• I’m starting to run out of superlatives to describe Tobias Harris. After a rough second half against the Warriors, Harris came back with a vengeance against his old team Tuesday.

Harris is outstanding in transition. Like Ben Simmons, he has the ability to grab the ball off the rim and go. Unlike Simmons, who is either going to drive or dish, Harris also has the threat of pulling up for a transition three or pull-up midrange jumper.

He’s also so good at exposing mismatches, like on this play when former Sixer Nikola Vucevic is switched onto him. Harris crosses him up and finds Simmons for a dunk.

Harris continues to earn himself money — and that money should come from the Sixers. He had 21 points on 8 of 15 and also had 11 rebounds and five assists.

• Simmons, fresh off earning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, kept up his strong play without Embiid.

He continues to be aggressive in looking for his shot and getting his offense in the post, recording 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. We’ll see if that continues when Embiid returns to the lineup.

Paired with Harris, the duo is a nightmare in transition.

Simmons did a pretty good job on Magic forward Aaron Gordon and appeared engaged overall on the defensive end. One thing that stood out was his understanding of when to double in the post and rotate and help at the rim. He has the tools and instincts to be an elite defensive player.

• Jimmy Butler was quiet for most of the night, but made a couple huge shots in the fourth quarter as Brown went to him as his closer.

He also assisted on Mike Scott's dagger three with 47.9 seconds to play and came up with a big defensive play, stripping Vucevic.

Much has been made of Butler's role and the number of shots he's taking, but as long as he's answering the ball in these late-game situations, he's a guy you want on your team.

• With no Embiid, no Marjanovic and no Bolden, Amir Johnson got the start and Justin Patton saw his first action with the Sixers.

Say what you will about Johnson, he was prepared to play and he gave them all he could. He battled Vucevic, who’s played at an All-Star level this season. Vucevic went just 5 of 15 for 12 points. Johnson did struggle in the pick-and-roll with Vucevic and D.J. Augustin.

Johnson was solid offensively, giving them 13 points. He also showed he could still get up on an alleyoop from Harris in the third.

You have to give Patton credit. He’s had a weird start to his career and played in just one NBA game until tonight. He’s spent the last few weeks in Delaware, but, like Johnson, was ready when his number was called. You can see the offensive potential but can also recognize flaws on the defensive end.

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