Sixers defeat shorthanded Magic
The Orlando Magic had every excuse in the world to fall flat. Pick any one of them — they all fit fine for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Lou Williams scored 24 points, Andre Iguodala had 21 and the Sixers beat the undermanned Magic 97-89 on Saturday night on a day Orlando made a pair of blockbuster trades that left them severely short-handed for a night.
''Any time you make a trade, it changes the psyche of your team,'' Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
Not that he was complaining about the timing.
Elton Brand finished with 20 points to help Philadelphia to a relatively easy victory with Orlando having only eight players available after two major trades. They acquired troubled guard Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards, along with Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark from the Phoenix Suns.
That left them with almost no help and no room for error against Philadelphia. The Magic managed to keep things close for a half until the Sixers pulled away with a strong defensive push and 31 points in the third quarter, handing Orlando its sixth loss in seven games.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy couldn't have cared less about the emotional toll of a trade-filled day.
''Make every excuse in the world,'' he said. ''That's five straight games where we've done nothing to defend in the second half. So, whatever the excuses are, I'm running out of them. I don't believe in any of them. Go out and guard somebody.''
The game was the first of eight straight on the road for the Sixers. Their grueling trip will cover some 9,300 miles, and they won't play another game in Philadelphia until Jan. 5.
Orlando even gave them a send-off gift by putting up little resistance.
After having the minimum amount of players available at tip-off, the Magic played the second half with only seven when backup point guard Jason Williams injured his left foot and did not return. The fatigue finally overwhelmed them.
''It was tough. This was kind of like the first time something like that happened on my team,'' Orlando's Jameer Nelson said. ''I just had to approach the game the same way.''
It wasn't easy.
Dwight Howard had 26 points and 20 rebounds, and Brandon Bass had 18 points for the Magic. Orlando's recent struggles — coupled with the surge atop the Eastern Conference standings by Boston and rival Miami — forced the Magic to make the only moves they could to revamp their roster.
Orlando sent forward Rashard Lewis to Washington and Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat to Phoenix in a separate trade. The Magic also gave Phoenix their 2011 first-round draft pick and cash, and received Suns forward Earl Clark.
Philadelphia never took it easy on them.
The Sixers took full advantage by wearing down the Magic on an emotional day that left them without some long-time teammates. Philadelphia went ahead by 15 points in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
''Defensively, as a team, this is the best we've played as a unit,'' Brand said. ''It feels like we're hitting on all cylinders defensively.''
Notes: Arenas is expected to join the Magic on Sunday in Orlando. The others were set to join the Magic when they play at Atlanta on Monday night. The Magic decided to take Sunday off because they wouldn't have enough players available for practice, with all involved in the trade needing to pass physicals first. ... Sixers SG Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall draft pick, came off the bench after not playing at all Friday against the Lakers. He had two points on 1 of 5 shooting.