Jimmy Butler

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

5 things: Sixers blown out by Magic

Dave Uram
March 26, 2019 - 8:20 am

This might be considered one of those “burn the tape" gamesIt was that bad. On the other hand, maybe Brett Brown should force his Sixers to re-watch their dreadful 119-98 loss at the Orlando Magic. That way they can witness the poor product they put on for their fans who were either at the game in Orlando or watched from home. Sleep walking won’t cut it at this point in the season, whether it’s in the playoffs or against teams trying to clinch a postseason spot.

In fact, just for a moment, forget the fact that the Sixers themselves are still playing for a lot in terms of seeding. Brown often talks about how it’s more important to “land the plane” in time for the postseason than worry about improving their spot in the standings. But in the end, neither was accomplished Monday night at Amway Center. 

This was about as bad as it gets. Here are observations from loss No. 27. 

Second Half Drought

Joel Embiid absolutely bullied Nic Vuvecic on the block with 6:20 left in the third quarter to go up 73-70 on Orlando. It gave the 76ers “crown jewel” 20 points on the night. It would also be the last time he scored. 

After a Shake Milton jump shot cut the Sixers deficit to 78-77 with 4:32 left in the third quarter, they went 11 minutes, 42 seconds without a field goal. 

Yes, you read correctly. 

The Sixers went nearly an entire quarter without a bucket. That’s remarkable, and inexcusable, considering the offensive firepower they possess. 

“We missed a lot of shots,” Brown told NBC Sports Philadelphia​ and the assembled media at Amway Center. “I think the end of the third period set the table. I thought we were OK up until then.

“I give their defense credit. Some of it we have to own, but that stretch is not going to enable you to beat a team that’s trying to get into the playoffs on their home court.” 

The Sixers scored 38 points in the second half. The Magic went on a 30-6 run before Zhaire Smith ended the field goal-less drought. It was Smith’s first shot attempt and make in his NBA career. More on that shortly.

Terrible Defense Continues 

Brown said the Sixers played terrible first half defense in their loss to the Hawks this past weekend. It wasn’t much better Monday against the Magic, who got a lot of open looks, especially from three-point range. 

Orlando also crushed the Sixers in fast break points, winning that battle 17-4. They collected 13 offensive rebounds compared to the Sixers six. 

“I think that they were desperate,” Brown said of the Magic. “They played like it. We did not.” 

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

How many times have I written the sub-head “Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers” this season? More often than I should for a team trying to win the East. 

The Sixers turned the ball over 15 times, resulting in 23 Orlando points. The Magic took 14 more shots and six more three’s than the Sixers. 

Vucevic Out-Dueled Embiid 

The Sixers were shorthanded going into this game as Ben Simmons was dealing with gastroenteritis, more commonly known as the stomach virus. They were also missing James Ennis III because of a quad injury.

But, that doesn’t excuse Embiid’s performance. Despite bullying Vucevic on the block for his 19th and 20th points midway through the third quarter, Vucevic scored a game high 28 points with 11 rebounds. 

According to Philly.com's Keith Pompey, Embiid declined to speak to the media postgame. No specific reason was given. 

Evan Fournier dropped 24 against the Sixers, which is another example of a guard giving them fits. 

One Positive: Zhaire Smith 

Usually a loss like this doesn’t warrant highlighting anything positive, but Smith went through a lot his rookie season. His special moment Monday night is certainly worth featuring. 

Some didn’t expect Smith to play this season with the Sixers after breaking his foot and suffering an allergenic reaction to a food product. But, Smith worked his way back, played well for the G-League Blue Coats and found his way into an NBA game Monday night during garbage time. 

The 19-year-old made the most of his six minutes, draining a three to end the Sixers insanely long field goal drought, and grabbing a rebound. 

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters asked him what type of feedback he got from teammates. Smith responded, “A lot of congratulations and then they told me get the towels.” 

Good for Zhaire.