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.

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

The Sixers had been burned by point guards before. Many times, actually. 

Just a week ago, Kyrie Irving dropped 39 points in the Cavs' 112-108 win. Nineteen came in the decisive fourth quarter. 

On Saturday Isaiah Thomas did the same damage. The undersized All-Star tied his season-high with 37 points in the Celtics' comeback 107-106 victory (see instant replay).

“Isaiah’s an All-Star,” Jahlil Okafor said. “He showed us why tonight. He’s the head of their team and came up big for them like he usually does.” 

Thomas made his impact in spurts. During the Celtics' 9-0 second quarter run, he scored six of those points. In the fourth quarter, in which the game was decided, he dropped 12 straight Celtics points. Thomas finished the night 11 for 19 for the field and only 2 of 3 from three. 

The most telling stat was at the free throw line. Thomas shot 13 for 15 after attacking and drawing fouls, a point of emphasis by head coach Brad Stevens for the second half. 

Thomas scored 15 points in the first half. He noticed a change in the Sixers defense in the second and capitalized on it. The Celtics ability to stretch the floor with their three-point shooting bigs also created opportunities for Thomas to get to the rim. 

“In the second half they sat back a little bit and they were switching a lot,” Thomas explained, also noting, “We wanted to put Okafor in a pick-and-roll. He sits far back. I just wanted to attack him downhill. It’s hard for bigs to move those bigs legs they’ve got. So I just tried to stay in attack mode and I saw we were in the bonus.”

The Sixers have had problems defending the one spot all season. Isaiah Thomas is the fifth starting point guard to score 30 points or more against them. He joins Russell Westbrook (32), Jeff Teague (30 in overtime), James Harden (33) and Irving. Another five (Kemba Walker, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry) have scored 20 or more points. 

The oneness of these high-scoring point guards doesn’t fall solely on the Sixers backcourt, where Sergio Rodriguez has been assuming the starting role in place of the oft-injured Jerryd Bayless. These opponents have been doing their work inside the arc. Of the five who have scored 30, only two (Harden and Irving) attempted more than three treys. 

“We’re all working hard trying to stop them, but it’s easier said than done,” Okafor said. 

The next point guard the Sixers will face is Emmanuel Mudiay when they take on the Nuggets Monday. Last season Mudiay hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three in Denver. 

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

Instant Replay: Celtics 107, Sixers 106

BOX SCORE

Rewind 24 hours.

The Sixers were walking off the court Friday night after a dismal blowout loss to the Magic that left Brett Brown reflecting on Saturday, “Here in Philadelphia, at home, that’s not good enough.”

The Sixers had lacked fire and grit, especially with Joel Embiid on the floor against a sub-.500 Magic team that had played the night before in Memphis. 

They had a day to turn it around. A playoff contending Celtics squad was coming to town and Embiid wasn’t available because of his back-to-back limitations. The shorthanded Sixers (see below) had a tall task ahead of them. 

The Sixers reacted by jumping out early and kept the Celtics at bay in the first half. Even when the Celtics cut their lead to three midway through the second quarter, the Sixers responded with an 8-0 burst to go up by a game-high 11 points. 

The Celtics exposed the Sixers' defensive void in the paint without Embiid in the third. With the Sixers up 65-58, Isaiah Thomas drew a foul against Jahlil Okafor. That play sparked a 9-0 Celtics run over the next two minutes, in which Thomas scored six of those points (including four at the line). The Celtics took back the lead during that stretch and forced the Sixers to play catchup.

The Sixers cut the Celtics lead to one in the fourth with a three from Dario Saric, who played one of his most aggressive games of his short NBA career. After the Celtics jumped back up by seven, the Sixers kept fighting and tied the game 100 apiece. The Celtics were able to pull away and finished with a one-point win, 107-106, after Ersan Ilyasova drained a three at the buzzer. 

Inside the stats
Thomas exploded for 37 points (11 for 19 from the field, 2 for 3 from three, 13 for 15 from the line), four rebounds, and seven assists.

Saric recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, both tying career-highs. 

Ersan Ilyasova dropped 18 points, including three treys, and six rebounds.

Okafor and Sergio Rodriguez scored 15 apiece, with Rodriguez adding eight assists. 

Avery Bradley dropped 20 points and nine rebounds. 

Stauskas starts in place of Covington
Brown turned to shooting guard Nik Stauskas to slide over to the three spot in place of the injured Robert Covington (see below). 

“Boston’s perimeter defense is as good as it is in the NBA,” Brown explained. “I think you need to have more ball handlers, people who can make a play, on the perimeter … I feel that Nik has that ability to put it to the floor and disrupt that aggressive pressure that the Celtics backcourt can put on you.”

Broken ankles
Saric came up with the Sixers' highlight play of the game when he did this to Jonas Jerebko in the third quarter for an instant highlight reel moment. 

Always a student
Not playing, still learning. Embiid has been praised for being an eager student of the game. During warmups he sat courtside to watch film on a laptop even though he wasn’t suiting up. 

Injury updates
Joel Embiid is not playing in back-to-back games and sat out the back end of this home-home series for rest … Robert Covington sat out with a sprained left knee he suffered on Friday after colliding with T.J. McConnell chasing a ball out of bounds … Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with left wrist soreness. 

Up next
The Sixers host the Nuggets on Monday night.