Arron Afflalo sat at halftime with a paltry three points on 1-for-5 shooting. Philadelphia had just cut into Orlando's 15-point lead with a 10-0 run to close the first half. Both teams were shooting the ball extremely well with the Magic at 54.8 percent shooting from the floor and the Sixers at 45.2 percent shooting with five made 3-pointers already.
Whoever was going to step up and play defense was pretty likely to win the game with the way Evan Turner and Michael Carter-Williams were putting up shots. And, conversely, the way NIkola Vucevic (17 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect eight for eight at the half) was scoring too.
That is not quite what happened. What happened instead was an ugly, grind-it-out performance you usually do not see from a young team like the Magic. Orlando had to grind its way to 50 points in the second half without the benefit of a 3-point shot and with Vucevic beginning to slow down.
The Magic never surrendered the lead in the second half, but never blew the game open — taking their biggest lead of the half in the final margin. It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination.
"I was telling Arron, that was the ugliest 18 points I've ever seen in my life," Glen Davis said. "There's games like that. There's games where Arron has been carrying this team basically since the season started. He's not Superman. We have guys on this team capable of, when in doubt, we can fill in the gap for him. That's what happened today.
"We're just grinding it. And you see in the second half, we made things happen. That was so big just grinding and getting the win. That's all that matters. There's going to be nights like this. I'm proud of our team and how we played."
It got the job done for a 105-94 victory at Amway Center on Wednesday.
Afflalo scored 18 points for the game, making 5 of his 10 shots in the second half on his way to 15 second-half points. That included 11 in the fourth quarter as the Magic closed the deal and held off whatever final runs the Sixers had at them.
Jacque Vaughn said they went to him and Afflalo turned in a professional performance. You could say the same thing for the rest of the Magic in earning this W.
The win became even more impressive when you consider Jameer Nelson left the game in the second quarter with a strained left foot after coming down weird following a nice dish to Nikola Vucevic. Jacque Vaughn said the team will re-evaluate Nelson in the coming days. The team has Thursday off before Friday's game against San Antonio.
The next guy though simply stepped up for the Magic and provided the spark needed.
Glen Davis had 19 points and Vucevic ended with 21 points and 16 rebounds. He added five assists. Victor Oladipo scored 18 points to go with five assists and five steals. Oladipo made all of his 2-point field goals before connecting late on his first 3-pointer of the game. He seemed not to mind committing eight turnovers in the game.
"That's progress for us," Jacque Vaughn said. "I didn't like the 10-0 run before the half. But I think overall, we watched a couple clips at halftime and made a few adjustments. Overall we came out and grinded out a game. That's OK sometimes."
Oladipo said the game was important because it helped the team realize how important it was to get stops on defense no matter what is happening offensively. That is usually the hallmark of an experienced team to be able to grind out a win when they are not playing near their best like that. The win showed tremendous growth.
The Magic kept control of the tempo against the Sixers, who play at the fastest pace in the league. Orlando scored 19 fast break points to Philadelphia's four on the evening. It seemed the Magic were able to break several Sixers pushes for the lead with a steal and run out that ended with a fast break lay up or some other easy basket.
In addition, Orlando seemed able to turn away any attempts at the rim with the size of Vucevic on the inside and Davis there to cover behind him. The Magic outscored the Sixers 52-36 in the paint.
Philadelphia relied heavily on mid-range jumpers to generate offense, going 13 for 28 from between the paint and the 3-point line. That is not typically a great way to sustain offense and it eventually caused the Sixers to fall short with six missed free throws on 17 attempts.
The Magic, playing their fourth game in five nights, got the job done.
The offense dished the ball around the perimeter and in the interior extremely well with 22 assists on 43 made field goals. The ball was generally moving and the team was getting good looks. Except for the stretches when the Magic turned the ball over — the only negative point for much of the game as the team had 17 turnovers for 21 points.
"Ideally you would like to play the game to perfection and play with a good rhythm, but some nights it's just not going to flow that way for you as a team or individually," Arron Afflalo said. "You just have to be mentally tough and do what you have to do."
This was a game the Magic can point to where they exerted their will and simply found a way.