It had all the makings of a letdown.
No Ben Simmons.
A sick Joel Embiid.
A Magic team hungry to break a seven-game losing streak.
Don’t be fooled by the slow start. The Sixers (11-7) took care of business Saturday night and dealt the Magic (8-12) their eighth straight loss, 130-111, at the Wells Fargo Center.
• The Sixers lagged early on. They didn’t get on the board for nearly the first two minutes and committed four turnovers in less than five minutes. Meanwhile, the Magic jumped out to an eight-point lead by bigs (and former Sixers) Nikola Vucevic and Mo Speights taking advantage of a visibly hampered Embiid, who had been probable earlier in the day because of a cold. The Magic missed six field goal attempts late in the first, however, and the Sixers outscored them, 15-7, in the final 4:30 of the quarter to lead 31-28.
• Embiid looked … tired. The cold seemed to be getting to him, as he shot 1 for 5 and committed three turnovers in the first quarter. That quick rest lying on the ground next to the Sixers' bench did him some good, to say the least.
Embiid scored 10 points in the first three minutes of the second quarter. He ran up the scoreboard with a mix of threes, jumpers, and-ones and layups. Embiid set a new mark for most points by a Sixer in the second quarter (12) in just the first 4:30.
He easily tallied his ninth double-double of the season: 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in over 28 minutes.
• T.J. McConnell recorded his sixth career double-double filling in for Simmons, who injured his left elbow Wednesday (see story). The do-all point guard posted 15 points (7 for 12 from the field), 13 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and a block. McConnell notably did this while committing just one turnover in 37 minutes.
• JJ Redick said so much time has passed and so many faces have changed since he played his first six-plus seasons on the Magic, this was like another game for him. The Sixers would like to see another performance like this in another game … and another … and another. Redick scored 29 points shooting 8 for 12 from three. He set a Wells Fargo Center record with six three-pointers made in the first half, the most by any player in any half in the building. He had an obvious chemistry with McConnell, who assisted on five of Redick’s baskets.
• Remember that big-big experiment, the one that didn’t pan out so well in the past? On Saturday, it showed potential. Richaun Holmes played alongside both Embiid and Amir Johnson. Holmes, who has played power forward in his career, is athletic enough to slide over to the four spot and spread the floor for the other centers who like to shoot from long range.
• Brett Brown said, as of early Saturday evening, there had not been a decision made about Simmons' availability for Monday against the Cavaliers. Simmons began his rehab and treatment on Thanksgiving, the day after the injury occurred.
• The Magic began the season 6-2 but lost seven straight, their last victory on Nov. 10. The Sixers became the fourth team to score more than 120 points in the Magic’s last eight games.
• Injury updates: In addition to Simmons, Justin Anderson (left leg), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) did not play. The Magic were without sixth overall pick Jonathan Isaac (right ankle).
• New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler rang the bell to kick off the game.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler rang the ceremonial bell before the Sixers Magic game tonight. pic.twitter.com/XZnGdIg44j— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) November 26, 2017
Actor and Delaware native Ryan Phillippe sat courtside near Kapler. Rapper Lil Dicky, who grew up in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania, also was seated in the same row.
• For all the jerseys worn to Sixers games, this one really stood out on Twitter:
Jason Kapono Sixers jersey sighting.— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) November 26, 2017