Sixers stifle the Orlando Magic with defense

Posted: January 30, 2012

Coach Doug Collins has talked about the 76ers playing consistently and on an even keel, night in and night out, no matter whom the opposition, in order to keep on rolling.

And almost a third of the way of the way through the season, this is exactly what they are doing. On Monday at Wells Fargo Center, it worked again, this time producing a 74-69 victory over the Orlando Magic.

The point total was the lowest the Sixers (15-7) have finished with in any game this season, but it was achieved because they held the Magic (12-9) to just 26-for-78 shooting in the game.

Gradually, game by game, this year is becoming a series of mini-accomplishments that are starting to build, and allaying the fears that this season, which will be one third complete by the end of this week, is a fluke.

The latest step saw the Sixers easily beat an Orlando team - they led by 19 in the fourth quarter - that had previously owned them. They held the Magic below 50 points until they finally hit 51 when Ryan Anderson scored on a put-back to make the score 68-51 Sixers with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left.

On numerous occasions the crowd rose to its feet and serenaded the Sixers with applause, the loudest of which came when Elton Brand swatted a short jumper by Orlando's Dwight Howard right back in his face late in the fourth.

The victory ended the Magic's six-game winning streak at the Wells Fargo Center, and it marked just the second time in the last 13 meetings that the Sixers had beaten the Magic.

Coming off a triple-double, the Sixers' Andre Iguodala was superb again, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. Tony Battie scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Brand had eight points and seven rebounds.

Howard finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Anderson finished with 14 points and a game-high 20 rebounds.

The Sixers were once again without starting center Spencer Hawes (strained left Achilles tendon), but Orlando was shorthanded as well, playing without its starting backcourt of Chester's own Jameer Nelson (concussion-like symptoms) and Jason Richardson (rest).

Fatigued or not, Orlando, playing its sixth game in eight nights, held the Sixers to 37 points in the first half, their lowest total since the New York Knicks held them to 35 in the first half of an 85-79 loss earlier this month.

Still, the Sixers led by four points at halftime because their defense reduced the Magic to a 12-for-36 shooting wreck. This covered up for their shaky 17-for-41 effort.

But the Sixers were able to shake off the offensive malaise of the first half, and Orlando was not. The Sixers held Orlando to nine points in the third, the first time this season the Sixers had held an opponent under 10 points in any quarter.

With Orlando making just three field goals the entire quarter, the Sixers were able to extend their lead to 58-42 at the end of the quarter.

Orlando has struggled this season and is in a particularly grueling stretch of the season right now. The Magic was playing its sixth game in eight nights on Monday. They had lost three in a row, most recently falling to Indiana, at home on Sunday, by 21 points.

The Sixers' schedule is about to become significantly more demanding than it has been since the start of the season. Howard is easily the best big man in the league, but now the Sixers are about to face some of the better teams in the NBA.


Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com or on Twitter @deepsixer3

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