'Dwight and Four Shooters' Too Much for Sixers as Magic Win 99-95

'Dwight and Four Shooters' Too Much for Sixers as Magic Win 99-95

"That's a tough team to defend."

Doug Collins repeated that line multiple times after the Sixers 99-95 loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

When Orlando wasn't successfully getting Dwight the ball deep in the paint or tossing him pretty alley-oops that Howard throws down with incredible force, the Magic were swinging the ball so efficiently that their high school basketball coaches were probably smiling with pride.

"It's easy for them because they have Dwight and four shooters," Lou Williams said of the Magic's effective ball movement. "As much as we rotate, every guy's a live ball every time we rotate. It's always tough when you guard a team like that with four shooters and a dominant big man."

It wasn't for a lack of effort on the Sixers part. They rotated well, but by the time the ball got swung to the fourth shooter, they often found Elton Brand trying to come all the way out on JJ Redick or Hedo Trukoglu lining up from long range.

The Sixers tried their best to slow Howard inside, but the Hack-a-Shaq approach to Dwight didn't work so well tonight with Howard hitting an impressive 14-19 free throw attempts. Dwight finished the evening with 30 and 17, only 10 assists away from a triple double.

Maybe the Sixers can watch some tape of Dwight at the line to get some pointers. The Sixers shot an ugly 15-22 from the line themselves, good for 68% on the night.

But it wasn't Howard who killed them late in the fourth, it was the quick ball movement and the four shooters who finally started to find the bottom of the net after a slow shooting start.

"JJ [Redick] hit one, [Jason] Richardson hit one, [Hedo] Turkoglu hit one. You can be up eight or nine on this team and that's a three possession game," Coach Collins said of the Magic's three balls in the fourth.

"All in all I thought our guys played well," Coach Collins said. "I thought we played well. I think [Orlando] showed tonight that they're right no a better team than we are. That's nothing to be discouraged about. That's a team that's picked to possibly get to the conference finals or get to the NBA finals."

Collins got typically solid efforts out of Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, but EB's ability to get and do much with the ball on the block was extremely limited with Howard working the paint. "They did a good job interrupting our offense. We weren't able to get into the lane like we usually do to get easy opportunities," Lou Will said of the Magic's D.

Dre finished with 21 and 8 but also had an atypically rough night taking care of the ball with 5 TOs.

As for the rest of the Sixers offense, Lou Williams lit it up in the fourth after a quiet first three. Lou, who scored 18 of his 23 in the fourth, single-handedly gave the Sixers a chance, hitting a couple of crazy threes in the final moments.

"Those last couple were basically catch up shots," LouWill said. "Before that I was just trying to get myself going and make some aggressive plays, and try and fight and kick until the end."

And fight they did, but the Magic were simply too much for the Sixers on this night. Back at it on Friday night at the Well against another very formidable foe in the San Antonio Spurs.

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.”

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

uspresswire-penguins-bryan-rust.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust had his first career hat trick, Sidney Crosby added his NHL-leading 17th goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins raced by the Ottawa Senators 8-5 on Monday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz also scored. The Penguins poured in six goals over the final 32 minutes after spotting the Senators a 4-2 lead. Matt Murray made 17 saves after coming in for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.

Pittsburgh has won three straight overall and improved to 7-0-2 in its last nine against the Senators.

Matt Stone had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for just the second time in its last eight games (see full recap).

Capitals rally late for OT win over Sabres
WASHINGTON -- Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal late in the third period and got the winner midway through overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The goals were Johansson's third and fourth in his last five games. He has 11 for the season.

Jay Beagle added the Capitals' first even-strength goal in three games, as Washington snapped a three-game losing skid. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory, the Capitals second over the Sabres in an 11-day stretch.

Kyle Okposo scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to give the Sabres the lead in the second period. Zemgus Girgensons also scored early for Buffalo, and Robin Lehner made 30 stops for the visitors (see full recap).

Blue Jackets sweep series from Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sam Gagner had two goals and two assists to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in three days, 4-1 on Monday night.

Nick Foligno and Zach Werensky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the fourth straight time and ninth of their last 12. Columbus picked up its 500th win in franchise history in sweeping the two-game season series with the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots for Columbus.

Arizona backup goaltender Louis Domingue had 30 saves, two days after the Blue Jackets hammered starter Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Arizona struck first 9:28 into the game when Alex Goligoski fed a pass on a power play to Tobias Reider, who slammed it past Bobrovsky's glove side from between the circles (see full recap).