Preview: Magic hope to rebound quickly against Joel Embiid, 76ers
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.
After allowing 120 points — and letting five opposing players score in double figures — in a 32-point home loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, the Orlando Magic travel to Philadelphia on Saturday night to face the 76ers‘ balanced lineup.
Philadelphia rebounded from a poor first quarter, when it allowed 41 points, to shut down the Bulls for the next two quarters.
Point guard Markelle Fultz, who had 12 points, wants to see the Sixers get off to quicker starts.
“We have to find the rhythm quicker,” Fultz said. “We can’t keep trading baskets. We just have to keep communicating. We learned a lot tonight. We ended up picking our defense up in the second quarter and kept going. It’s a team thing; We are going to keep getting better.”
On Friday, the Magic were likewise felled by a poor start, only they were unable to bounce back. Instead, a 10-point first quarter led to a 31-point first half, and the Hornets ultimately held them to 38.3 percent shooting and 19.4 percent from 3-point range.
Philadelphia’s big game on Thursday followed a brutal season-opener on Wednesday when the Sixers fizzled in a potential Eastern Conference finals matchup with Boston. The Celtics stomped on the 76ers in a 105-87 win, with just three Sixers finishing in double figures.
A day later, Philadelphia used a 19-3 run to open the third quarter to put the Bulls away.
“I think we just kind of clicked,” said Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, who had his first triple-double of the year with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists against Chicago. “We were looking to get that momentum back from where we were from last year, and I finally felt like we kind of got it back a little bit. We are glad that happened sooner rather than later, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Added Embiid: “It’s about playing together. And playing against Boston I felt like we weren’t playing together, we didn’t share the ball. Tonight, we did share the ball and that’s what got us the win. I think we had 30 assists, we’ve just got to keep moving the ball. That’s 76ers basketball and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Orlando, which opened the season with an impressive 104-101 win over the rival Miami Heat, struggled from the tip against the Hornets, as the two teams combined for 18 first-quarter turnovers.
The Magic will have to get more from Aaron Gordon, who went 2 for 9 for five points, with 10 rebounds, in the loss to Charlotte. Also, exciting rookie Mo Bamba will need to show more than he did on Friday, when he went 0 for 4 and had a negative-20 plus/minus rating in 19 minutes.
“I want him to play 82 (games), and he’s going to be out there and playing quality minutes,” Orlando head coach Steve Clifford said earlier in the week. “But he’s just not ready to play starter’s minutes against starting players. (A reserve role) is a big part of how you bring a player along. He’s in a role that’s ideal for him.”