The long ball came in various forms last night - contested, wide open, off the pass, off the dribble - but each one brought the Magic (50-21) just a little closer to that inevitable victory.
The Sixers dropped to 24-47 and were eliminated from playoff contention. Since Feb. 10, their record is 4-16. They are 11-24 at the Wachovia Center this season.
In the season series with the Sixers, Orlando is now 47 for 83 (56.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
"They made threes, that's what they do," said Sixers coach Eddie Jordan. "The most important key was that we compete for 48 minutes. Knowing the history of where we've been with this team, I'm proud of the team that we competed physically, that we executed the game plan."
And the Sixers did.
It wasn't good enough to win, it wasn't good enough to threaten to win, but it was good enough to prevent a full-on blowout.
And right now, that's as good as it gets for the Sixers.
With 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game, Sixers forward Rodney Carney hit a pull-up jumper along the right baseline, cutting Orlando's lead to 100-92. Seconds later, Magic center Dwight Howard dunked as if playing on a Nerf hoop, his bucket essentially extinguishing any lingering hope.
Howard finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Last night, Orlando's three-point magicians were Matt Barnes (4 for 4) and Rashard Lewis (3 for 7).
"Overall effort was definitely positive," said Sixers power forward Elton Brand, who scored 23 points, 18 in the first half. "They hit threes; they're going to hit threes, that's what they do. We played well, but of course we want to win. I'm tired of just playing well. I want to win these games."
Brand and center Samuel Dalembert combined for 39 points and 20 rebounds.
"You probably don't realize it, but he fought his butt off," Jordan said of Dalembert.
Jordan also praised the defensive effort of backcourt mates Jrue Holiday (seven points) and Andre Iguodala (23).
"We wanted to get over the stigma of hanging our heads and not having the spirit to play with this team, and we accomplished that," Jordan said.
Holiday hounded Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson (five points) all night, but especially in the third quarter, when it appeared Nelson shifted into a higher gear in an attempt to score on Holiday.
"We really tried to make that push," Holiday said of the Sixers. "I really tried to step up and do what I did, frustrate him, get fastbreak points, get them out of the offense a little bit."
But the Sixers can't get Orlando out of its offense.
And the Magic have dozens of three-pointers and an impending season sweep to prove it.
Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.