Sixers-Magic: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Magic: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (6-9) get back to action Wednesday night on the road against the Orlando Magic (5-9), who snapped a four-game skid with a win on Tuesday.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (TCN) at Amway Center.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Hey, rookie
Michael Carter-Williams will take the floor on Wednesday coming off his best game as a pro, and a former college rival will be trying to prevent the point guard from a repeat performance.

Carter-Williams had 29 points, seven steals, six rebounds and three assists in the Sixers’ loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. He helped carry the shorthanded Sixers in a tight matchup against the Eastern Conference’s top team.

MCW will square off against fellow rookie Victor Oladipo, the draft’s second overall selection, on Wednesday night. Oladipo got the best of Carter-Williams the last time the two guards squared off on the court. He scored 24 points to MCW’s 11, including the game-winning basket in a 90-89 Magic win during the Orlando Pro Summer League.

Carter-Williams can always lean on the fact that his Syracuse squad eliminated Oladipo’s Indiana team from last year’s NCAA tournament, with the 11th pick in April’s draft scoring 24 points of his own in the victory.

Carter-Williams has also had the upper hand so far in the NBA. He is averaging 17.3 points, 7.4 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals for the Sixers.

On the other hand, Oladipo is averaging 12.7 points and holds the league’s third-worst turnover mark with 4.1. However, he has scored at least 17 points in three of four games since joining Orlando’s starting lineup.

The pair of rookies should create quite a matchup on the perimeter in this one.

2. You look familiar
While the Sixers will be getting their first regular-season look at Oladipo, they’ve seen plenty of what Nikola Vucevic can do on the court.

The former Sixer has thrived in Orlando since being traded to the Magic as a part of the Andrew Bynum deal. Since being dealt, Vucevic is averaging 13.9 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. Vucevic’s 11.0 rebounds per game this season rank fifth in the league.

In three previous games against the Sixers, Vucevic has averaged 11.7 points and 16.7 rebounds.

The Sixers must hope Spencer Hawes is back in the lineup to help the league’s fifth-ranked rebounding team combat Vucevic on the boards.

Of course, Vucevic isn’t the only familiar face on the Magic roster. Swingman Maurice Harkless was also drafted by the Sixers before being shipped away in the Bynum deal, and St. Joe’s product Jameer Nelson is in his 10th season at point guard for Orlando.

3. This could get ugly
With the Sixers leading the league in pace (102.4 possessions per game) and the Magic at 10th (98.9 possessions per game), this game will likely be played at warp speed.

That also sets the stage for a potentially sloppy encounter. Both teams are tied for 26th in the NBA with 17.8 turnovers per game.

The Sixers have a whopping 60 turnovers in their last three games.

4. Injuries
Tony Wroten (back) is expected to return for the Sixers on Wednesday after missing Saturday’s game (see story). Hawes (knee), who also missed the loss to the Pacers, could be available against the Magic. He is officially day-to-day.

Thaddeus Young (personal reasons) has missed the Sixers’ last three games.

Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.

Orlando’s Tobias Harris (ankle) and Kyle O’Quinn (ankle) are day-to-day.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost 20 of the last 24 to the Magic, including 10 of 11 in Orlando.

• The Magic had lost 17 straight on the road before beating Atlanta on Tuesday night.

• Orlando has lost three straight home games.

• Carter-Williams leads all rookies with four double-doubles.

• Evan Turner has averaged just 7.1 points over his career against the Magic.

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

Best of NBA: James Harden's 12th triple-double paces Rockets' rout of Nets

NEW YORK -- James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.

Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.

Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.

Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game (see full recap).

DeRozan leads Raptors past Knicks
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Norman Powell added 21 and the Toronto Raptors used a dominant third quarter to beat the New York Knicks 116-101 on Sunday.

DeRozan also had five rebounds and five assists before coming out late in the third quarter.

The Raptors improved to 27-13, taking the lead for good late in the first quarter. They led by 38 points in the third in winning their third straight game overall and fifth in a row against the Knicks.

DeMarre Carroll added 20 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 18 points, Justin Holiday had 17, and Derrick Rose added 16. The Knicks are 2-10 in their last 12 to drop to 18-23 (see full recap).

Hawks stay hot by beating Bucks    
ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.

Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.

Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season (see full recap)

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz keep on scoring

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz keep on scoring

The Sixers' run of five wins in six games means they have only the fourth-worst record in the league, but that still means Philly is a top contender for a top pick. Add that to the Lakers' pick that will likely be heading to Philly this summer and the Sixers have a chance to be making two high lottery picks this June.

So let's take a look at how some of the players in the conversation for this June's draft are playing in college.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
Week by week, it seems like the obvious move to lead off with Ball. The freshman point guard is averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.8 steals and even 0.9 blocks a game. He's shooting lights out (53 percent from the field and 43 percent from three) and has shown no signs of letting up.

This week was an example of the different forms his game can take. In a 104-89 win at Colorado on Thursday, Ball shot the ball just six times, but made three of those attempts (two from beyond the arc) and dished out eight assists. His 11 points were the fewest he had scored in nearly a month.

But then he had to take on the offensive burden against a pesky Utah squad. He still dished out eight assists, but he took 12 shots and efficiently made seven of them. He was 3 for 7 from three and also had six rebounds. Perhaps most impressive was his five steals, a career-high for the well-rounded guard. And better yet, his first 40-minute performance was key to an 83-82 win on the road.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
With each passing game, it looks more and more likely that Washington will not make the NCAA Tournament. Like with Ben Simmons last season, that means the player most tout as the No. 1 player, Fultz, will not get to participate in March Madness, a true shame. It'd be different if Fultz was underachieving like the Huskies as a whole, but that's simply not the case.

Take Saturday for instance. Washington lost to a middling Pac 12 squad (Stanford) and fell to 1-4 in conference. The team only scored 69 points and shot 38.5 percent from the field, 7 for 26 from three. Yet Fultz's stat line looks as if it had to come from the winning squad's top player. In 37 minutes, he scored 34 points, nearly half his team's total, on 12 for 23 shooting, four threes, 6 for 7 free throw shooting.

It's not like his non-shooting stats were any worse. He had seven boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks. His jumper is smooth (go to the 1:10 mark of the game highlights to see him hit from Curry range) and he can battle inside for boards. It's disappointing that he likely won't play meaningful postseason games this year, but he's a delight to watch regardless of the stakes.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
This is it from the Pac 12, I swear! But the West Coast has been arguably the best coast this year in terms of some of the best prospects (I didn't even put Ivan Rabb on here, but he's shown up with some big games as well). Markkanen's last two games made it imperative that the Finnish forward was included on this list.

Markkanen appears to be the ideal stretch four. Just a freshman, he has scored 50 points in 52 minutes over his last two games, two wins for the Wildcats, including 18 for 30 shooting combined in wins against Colorado last Saturday and Arizona State on Thursday. Even better, he's more than found his mark from three, making 8 of 11 from deep in those games and has gobbled up 14 rebounds as well. His 30 points against Arizona State were a career-high and another reason why he's a top-10 prospect.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Not every prospect has had a great week. Tatum played admirably in a loss to No. 9 Florida State on Tuesday, scoring 21 points on 17 shots and made 3 of 6 from three. But the freshman wing was a large part of Duke's second straight loss in a road clash with Louisville on Saturday.

Dealing with foul trouble, he played just 31 minutes. He is counted on as a top scoring option for the Blue Devils, right there with the much-beleaguered Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard. However, he wasn't a threat offensively Saturday, going 3 for 11 and missing his only three. He redeemed himself somewhat with a 5 for 6 day at the free throw line, but it wasn't enough to bring Duke back in a 78-69 loss.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
After Baylor lost to begin the week, Kansas seems all but assured to be the new No. 1 when the polls come out Monday. The freshman Jackson doesn't necessarily lead the Jayhawks — he has senior point guard Frank Mason III to rely on for that — but he is still a threat on both ends. His shooting is still a concern as he is just 25 percent from the three-point line and 57 percent from the free throw line, but he does everything else to make scouts excited about the freshman wing.

Facing Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jackson was one of three Jayhawks to score at least 20 (he finished with exactly that) and was at the free throw line more often than OSU as a team, shooting 17 free throws to the Cowboys' 14 attempts. A 6-foot-8 forward that plays every bit like a guard can often do that. He made just 10 of those freebies and was 5 for 13 from the field, but he had 11 rebounds and four steals, not to mention two blocks, making him a double threat, offensively and defensively. 

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-four points on 8 for 14 shooting, 4 for 8 from three, one rebound, six assists, and one block in a 92-72 win over Auburn.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Seventeen points on 6 for 11 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals and four fouls in a 96-83 loss to No. 11 North Carolina.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Eleven points on 4 for 8 shooting, 0 for 2 from three, three rebounds, two assists, seven steals (!), and one block in a 76-57 win over Rutgers.

Jaron Blossomgame, forward, Clemson (6-7/214)
Twenty-two points on 10 for 14 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, one block and two turnovers in a 77-73 loss to No. 19 Virginia.