ORLANDO -- With the Sixers missing their starting center, it was their former man in the middle that showed the franchise once again just what it’s been missing.
Ex-Sixers center Nikola Vucevic took advantage of Spencer Hawes missing a second straight game with left knee soreness while leading the Magic to a 105-94 win over the Sixers on Wednesday night. Vucevic had 21 points on 10 of 13 shooting to go with 16 rebounds and five assists in the victory.
The loss dropped the Sixers’ record to 6-10.
Thaddeus Young returned after missing three games because of personal reasons and looked like he never left. Young scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench.
Tony Wroten missed a second straight game with back spasms.
The Sixers kept cutting into a once double-digit deficit throughout the second half and even got it to two points at one moment.
After the lead was pushed back up to six, Victor Olapido made a three-pointer with three minutes to play that stretched the Magic’s lead to nine. The Magic were just 4 of 19 from long range on the night, but Oladipo’s three was a critical one.
Follow the leader
Vucevic started his career with the Sixers in 2011 when they selected the USC product 16th overall in the draft. Since being traded to the Magic in the Andrew Bynum deal, Vucevic’s career took off.
Last year, he averaged a double-double and the big man is doing the same again this season with an average of 14.8 points and 11.0 boards. Vucevic almost had those marks in the first half on Wednesday with 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds heading into intermission before finishing with 21 and 16, respectively.
Glen Davis had 19 points for the Magic, while Olapido and Aaron Afflalo finished with 18 each.
Evan Turner and Michael-Carter-Williams again proved to be reliable scorers with a short-handed roster.
Turner had a double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Carter-Williams had 23 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.
The Sixers allowed the Magic to score 52 points in the paint compared to their own 36 from that area.
Take a bow
Young returned to the Sixers after missing the previous three games due to a death in his family. For the first time since the 2011-12 season, he came off the bench.
In 14 first-half minutes, Young scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. His three-point play with 3.6 seconds to go in the half closed the Sixers’ once 15-point deficit to just five.
By game’s end, Young was 9 of 15 from the floor for his team-high 26 points.
The Sixers host Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Pelicans come to town with a 6-8 record. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson combine to average 38.6 points. Holiday is averaging 14.0 points and 7.3 assists for his new team.
The Sixers were embarrassed by New Orleans on Nov. 16 when they suffered a 135-98 loss at the hands of the Pelicans.