Ryan Anderson led six Magic double-digit scorers with 26 points and Jameer Nelson added 13 assists as the Orlando Magic bashed in a previously stellar Philadelphia 76ers defense to win a 113-100 shootout in Orlando.
The 76ers were the ones who got out early, using 12 Jrue Holiday first-quarter points to leap out to a 27-21 lead after a single quarter. Holiday (18 points, eight assists) was particularly aggressive in getting points against the Magic, shooting 5-7 from the field, including 2-4 on his three-point shots.
Spencer Hawes came in and contributed six of his team-high nine assists for Philly in the second quarter, leading a usually strong bench unit for the 76ers, but the 28-point quarter, Philadelphia's best of the night, was not even close to matching the Magic offering in the same quarter.
Quentin Richardson (5-9, 13 points) came off the Magic bench and hit two three-pointers and Jason Richardson (6-10, 17 points) attacked the Sixers for 12 points after returning midway through the quarter. In all, the Magic shot 16-23 for the quarter and packed on 40 points in the quarter, giving the Magic a six point lead going into halftime.
Orlando beat the Sixers' defense -- a defense that had been No. 1 in defensive efficiency and opponent eFG% coming into the game but fell out of the top spot (Celtics No. 1 now) because of this game -- by moving the ball well and simply making the shots Philly was giving them. Orlando made 11 of 18 three-point shots in the game and shot 53 percent overall.
After halftime, the Magic came out and immediately went on a run and established what would be the largest lead of the night, 15 points, behind the play of Anderson (11-16, 16 rebounds, eight offensive) and Nelson (16 points, five third-quarter assists).
The Sixers would make a couple of more runs at Orlando, but the Magic's shot-making always pushed them back. Solid bench work from Earl Clark (7-14, 14 points, 11 rebounds) and J.J Redick's 8-16, 18-point night helped the cause as well.
It wasn't as if Philly couldn't score, as they placed six players as well in double-digits, led by Holiday's 18 points. All three Sixers bench players (Louis Williams, Evan Turner, Hawes) scored 10 or more as well. But they couldn't stop the Magic, despite Orlando playing without three key rotation players in Dwight Howard, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu.
Derek Bodner of Liberty Ballers notes the defensive deficiencies and marks that this is no aberration, but a growing trend:
If I were to start, it would be a combination of terrible pick and roll defense and defensive rebounding, a growing trend for a team who prided themselves on their defense earlier in the season. The Sixers have allowed 7 of their previous 10 opponents to have an offensive rating above 100 after only allowing 7 of their first 24 opponents to do so.
But Orlando Pinstriped Post's Evan Dunlap thinks it may be an outlier after all -- for the Magic:
Playing without Howard regularly for the first time since they drafted him in 2004 has forced the Magic to play a much different brand of basketball. Without their defensive anchor and lone double-team-drawer, Orlando has to rely on ball movement to score, and (essentially) prayer to prevent the other team from doing so. Monday's was a rare instance in which Orlando managed to outgun its opponent. Normally an offensively challenged club, Philly shot 50 percent from the field and from three-point range, and committed only eight turnovers against the Magic. The key was keeping the Sixers off the offensive glass: the visitors grabbed only 10.8 percent of their misses thanks to brilliant glass-cleaning from Anderson and Clark, who combined for 18 of the Magic's 33 defensive boards.
For all of Monday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.