6 observations from Sixers-Magic

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6 observations from Sixers-Magic

The Sixers couldn’t hang on to a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter or a five-point lead with 1:30 left in the first overtime, but they didn’t let a second five-point lead slip away in the second overtime.

A 126-125 victory in double overtime over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center stopped the Sixers’ four-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here are a few interesting items we saw during Tuesday night’s epic:

1. Deep impact
Spencer Hawes continued his solid shooting from beyond the three-point arc by drilling three more on Tuesday night. It was the 18th straight game in which Hawes hit at least one three-pointer, which is the eighth-longest streak in team history.

Hawes still has a long way to go to catch Dana Barros for the longest streak in team history.

Dana Barros - 58
Kyle Korver - 28
Jodie Meeks - 25
Korver - 25
Barros - 22
Korver - 22
Allen Iverson - 21
Korver - 21
Hersey Hawkins - 20
Meeks - 19
Spencer Hawes - 18
Korver - 18

Meanwhile, Thad Young knocked down a three-pointer in his fourth straight game, which isn’t too bad for a guy who attempted just 12 three-pointers in the last two seasons combined. During the 2009-10 season, Young had a 10-game three-pointer streak.

2. What rust?
Young has been back for four games and hasn’t shown a bit of rust after a missing three games and nine days following the death of his nephew. Young logged 48 minutes and scored 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting on Tuesday night. During his layoff, Young said he did not touch a basketball and only worked out in the weight room in his home.

In the last four games, Young is averaging 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

On Tuesday, Young hit a clutch layup with 33.8 seconds left in regulation to give the Sixers a three-point lead. In the first overtime, Young rattled home a three-pointer with 2:04 left to give the Sixers a seemingly insurmountable lead.

3. Role reversal
Rookie Hollis Thompson started for the second straight game, pushing James Anderson to a bench role. However, Anderson’s minutes haven’t dipped too drastically. As the first man off the bench for head coach Brett Brown, Anderson turned in 25 minutes and scored 19 points. He also hit a big three-pointer with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter to push the Sixers’ lead to seven points, as well as a diving rebound with 90 seconds left in double overtime.

Thompson, a defensive-minded player, did a nice job guarding E’Twaun Moore. The rookie also hit two quick three-pointers in the first quarter. Thompson also had a nifty tip in from the weak side to extend the Sixers’ lead to eight with 5:30 to go in the game.

4. More of the same for MCW
Fresh off being named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, Michael Carter-Williams continued to post big numbers, nabbing his first career triple-double. With 27 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and 10 assists, Carter-Williams got the triple-double and his sixth double-double of the season.

Carter-Williams was squared up against fellow rookie, Victor Oladipo, who was drafted No. 2 overall last June, nine spots ahead of MCW.

Oladipo scored 26 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists for dueling triple-doubles by the rookies.

5. Shooting from the hip
How well did the Magic shoot the ball on Tuesday? Try this: Orlando missed 10 of the last 16 shots it took to close out the first half and still were shooting 57 percent from the field at that point of the game.

The Magic went 11 for 16 in the first quarter and made five straight to open the second quarter. They did not miss two shots in a row until there was 3:40 left in the first half.

The Magic pulled some crazy shots out of their hats. Glen Davis hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the game to force overtime. It was Davis’ first three-pointer since April of 2012 and only the seventh of his career.

Additionally, Aaron Afflalo hit for a career-high 43 points with five threes.

Not bad for a team that was playing the second game of a back-to-back.

6. Blow the whistle
A few of the Sixers players did not appear very pleased with the officiating work from referees, Marc Davis, Scott Wall and James Williams. Evan Turner (24 points, five assists, six rebounds) had an ongoing conversation with the officials throughout the game and Hawes was visibly upset after several calls.

Rookie Brandon Davies was whistled for a technical foul during the fourth quarter.

Even referee Davis got into it by staring down Turner seemingly looking for an excuse to call a technical foul.

Yes, players complain about foul calls … a lot. But even by the typical standard, the chirping and apparent displeasure over the refs’ work was notable.

And yes, it’s rare to see a ref in the NBA take a confrontational stance like Davis did. NBA refs are not like Major League Baseball umpires. At least not usually.

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”