Sixers fall to Magic, 95-85, draw Miami in first round

The fight for position: Orlando big man Dwight Howard tangles with Elton Brand. The loss to the Magic locked the Sixers into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will face the Miami Heat in the first round.
The fight for position: Orlando big man Dwight Howard tangles with Elton Brand. The loss to the Magic locked the Sixers into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They will face the Miami Heat in the first round.
Posted: April 12, 2011

The 76ers are locked into the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed for the NBA playoffs. More important: Can they unlock themselves from their recent funk?

A 95-85 loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center handed the No. 6 seed to the New York Knicks and continued the questions about the Sixers, who are not exactly steamrollering into the postseason.

In the first-round series, the Sixers will face the Miami Heat, who earned the No. 2 seed with Monday's win over Atlanta, coupled with Boston's loss to Washington.

It was the fourth loss in five games for the Sixers (41-40), who will end the regular season Wednesday at home against the Detroit Pistons.

The Sixers played without Andre Iguodala, who was given the night off because of tendinitis in his right knee. And for the fourth straight game, the Sixers played without Lou Williams, out with a strained right hamstring.

But the Magic were without injured J.J. Redick and Gilbert Arenas. They also played without swingman Quentin Richardson, serving the second night of a two-game NBA suspension.

All season, the Sixers have prided themselves on their outstanding effort, but against Orlando they were outrebounded, 56-31. Rebounding and effort are often synonymous.

To demonstrate how bad things were in the first quarter, Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (of Chester High and St. Joseph's fame) outrebounded the Sixers, 3-2. The Magic owned a 17-2 advantage on the boards in the period.

"They wanted it more than us, and they were much tougher than us," said Sixers forward Thaddeus Young, who had nine points and four rebounds. "We were down two guys, and they battled."

The second half began well for the Sixers, who took a 54-52 lead when Jrue Holiday made a three-pointer with 9 minutes, 28 seconds left in the third quarter.

From there, the Magic outscored the Sixers, 24-8, to enter the fourth period with a 76-62 lead.

From there, the Sixers never bounced back.

"They were more aggressive than us," Sixers coach Doug Collins said.

The Magic (51-30) have been locked in as the No. 4 seed and didn't appear to have great motivation to dominate, but they really brought it to the Sixers.

"We want the team to build on things we need to work on in the playoffs," said Orlando center Dwight Howard, who had 19 points and 13 rebounds. "We have to rebound, cut the turnovers - and have to work on those things and don't want to sit on the bench and chill and want to continue to get better."

It might be good advice for the Sixers.

With Williams' status unknown for the postseason, Collins is holding an audition for playing time. Evan Turner started in Iguodala's place, but after the rookie scored two points in 12 first-half minutes, Andres Nocioni took Turner's place to begin the third quarter.

Nocioni finished with 13 points and a team-high six rebounds.

Nocioni "played well tonight," Collins said.

That is something that couldn't be said about many others on the home team.

"We have one more game at home to try to straighten things up," said forward Elton Brand, who had a game-high 22 points. "After that, it's for real."


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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