ORLANDO -- The Sixers were forced to suffer in more ways than one on Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.
Not only were they unable to pull off a comeback in a 105-94 loss to the Magic (see Instant Replay), they also had to watch themselves lose at the hands of former Sixer Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic make shot after shot and grab rebound after rebound as a painful reminder of potential that is now being achieved for another team. The 16th overall selection by the Sixers in 2011, who later was dealt to the Magic in the Andrew Bynum trade, was a dominating presence in the first half.
The third-year Magic center made his first eight field goal attempts while recording 17 points and 10 rebounds by halftime. He finished the game with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
“Nik is a big body,” Thaddeus Young said. “He goes to the glass every time. He has good post work and he has a solid jumper where he is going to have to make guys play up on him. He will use his body to get past them and score layups. He’s definitely a good player.”
“When you look at their interior bigs, I think their percentage was 80 in the first half,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “We couldn’t guard them and we had to go to schemes. We had to go about different ways to give help to our bigs and it’s a problem. We want to try and improve our ability to guard one-on-one.”
Brown admits that the team’s difficulty defending the paint is a combination of the Sixers’ team design and still figuring out ways to guard better individually.
Nonetheless, Young, playing for the first time since missing three games for personal reasons, had a three-point play in the closing seconds of the first half to cut the Sixers’ deficit to five. They had trailed by as many as 15 in the half.
The Sixers clawed their way back in the second half and even cut the deficit to just two points in the fourth quarter. However, they allowed second overall pick Victor Oladipo (18 points) to drain a three-pointer with three minutes to go to push their deficit back to nine.
The Sixers couldn’t recover from that final body shot.
“I think we got it to two, hung around two. We just couldn’t get over the top,” Brown said. “A few untimely things and Oladipo’s three especially put the game away.”
While the Sixers were dejected from not getting the win, they were certainly glad to have Young. The forward looked like he didn’t miss any action at all. He scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds off the bench.
“It was clear right from the get-go that he had bounce and he had energy. He wanted to play and he was good.” Brown said. “He got 29 minutes, which is more than I would have guessed at the start of the game, but it is great to have him back.”
Young was clearly in attack mode throughout the game. He shot 9 of 15 from the field and attempted 11 free throws.
“I was trying to get myself in a rhythm early,” Young said. “I knew I was coming off the bench and that was one of the things when I was a sixth man, I would say to myself be aggressive early. So I went back into my sixth man role like when I played for coach [Douh] Collins, and it worked out pretty well tonight.”
Evan Turner flirted with a triple-double, scoring 17 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out eight assists. Michael Carter-Williams had his fifth 20-point scoring output (23) in 11 appearances this season.
Spencer Hawes (knee) and Tony Wroten (back) both missed their second consecutive games with injuries.
The Sixers return to action on Friday when they host Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans.