Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley gave the Magic a warning ahead of Sunday’s home matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers: Defend without fouling, especially against Joel Embiid and James Harden.
Orlando was successful in that area, at least for one half, before Harden and Embiid made a combined 19 of 22 free throws in the final two quarters and overtime to beat the Magic 116-114 at Amway Center.
After going into overtime tied at 104, Cole Anthony made three consecutive 3-pointers during the extra period to give the Magic a 113-109 lead with 1:25 remaining.
Anthony (19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists) was given the ball on Orlando’s final possession with 6.7 seconds remaining but missed a pull-up 3-point attempt at the buzzer that allowed Philadelphia to prevail.
“Our guys are gaining execution experience and understanding what it’s like to play against a high-level playoff team,” Mosley said. “These guys did a great job of executing down the stretch. Things didn’t work out how we wanted it to, but these guys did a great job of competing.”
The Magic — especially Wendell Carter Jr., who was Embiid’s primary defender — found success in the first half by getting to their spots early on defense and keeping their hands off Embiid and Harden on drives to the rim.
But the Philadelphia duo, both of whom are in the top-five of free-throw attempts per game, maintained pressure on the Magic’s defense and went 28 of 32 from the foul line.
Carter finished with team-highs of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks for his 31st double-double.
Although Embiid finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists, Carter contributed to the 7-foot-2 big man’s shooting struggles (9 of 28).
“It’s tough,” Carter said of guarding Embiid. “He’s a force on the offensive end. From the duck-ins, he has the finesse game, 3-point line … it’s a lot to handle. The one way you slow that down is by making him work on the other end. I tried to do that.”
Harden had 26 points (13 of 15 on free throws, 5-of-19 shooting), 6 assists and 3 steals. Tobias Harris had 26 points (10 of 18).
The 76ers went 32 of 37 on free throws compared to the Magic’s 14 of 20.
“I’m gonna give you the best answer I can give you right now,” Mosley said when asked the free-throw disparity. ”No comment.”
The Magic’s bench, which outscored the 76ers’ bench 51-19, helped give Orlando a 17-point lead in the second quarter that resulted in a 12-point halftime advantage.
Chuma Okeke had 13 points. Markelle Fultz recorded a season-high 11 assists to go with 8 points in 19 minutes. R.J. Hampton finished with 11 points (4 of 8) and 3 assists.
Jalen Suggs (10 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds) was ruled out of Sunday during overtime because of a sprained right ankle with which he entered the game.
The Magic will continue their six-game homestand with a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets (35-33) on Tuesday.
Source: Berkshire mont