Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 112, Philadelphia 76ers 97

Nikola Vucevic provided a consistent presence for the Orlando Magic as they burst through in the fourth quarter for a win. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic provided a consistent presence for the Orlando Magic as they burst through in the fourth quarter for a win. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic turned their defense up in the fourth quarter and were able to surge past the Philadelphia 76ers for a much-needed win.

97. 93. 112. 38. Final

Aaron Gordon struggled to keep track of Ben Simmons throughout much of the night. The Orlando Magic’s defensive schemes looked a bit scattered as they tried to corral the Philadelphia 76ers super point guard. The team tasked Aaron Gordon with tracking him the entire night.

Orlando was on the ropes defensively for much of the night because of it. The Magic’s offense was not responding much either, stuck in the mire against a strong 76ers defense. They broke free because of free-throw shooting and respectable 3-point shooting.

At the end of the day, the team needed its defense. Coach Steve Clifford said before the game, the Magic would need their defense whether they were making or missing shots. It had to start on defense.

And with Simmons on the ball, it had to start with Gordon.

He and the Magic needed that spark and needed their defense to get physical. Gordon finally stepped up to provide it, cutting off the head of the snake.

Simmons drove the baseline as Gordon closed down to protect the rim. Nikola Vucevic was also there as a backup at the rim. That had to give Simmons some pause as he rose up for a dunk. It would not have mattered as Gordon was there to meet him.

Gordon snatched the layup attempt from Simmons and started pushing the ball upcourt. He crashed into the lane and the defense collapsed to try to stop him. That is when Aaron Gordon whipped the ball to the corner to Evan Fournier for a 3-pointer.

Suddenly, everything else felt loose. The Magic had a five-point lead that was only going to grow as they outlasted the 76ers 112-97 behind a 32-15 fourth quarter. The Magic played free and loose, turning their offense into defense.

This was how the Magic always meant to play. After grinding for three quarters and struggling defensively, the Magic finally had their breakthrough moment. They finally looked like the team that could frustrate even the elite opponents and make their run.

It was just one game. And one really quarter at that. But the pressure was relieved for a moment. The Magic played loose and in rhythm for the rest of the night. That made winning easy.

And some of the pressure was relieved, if not the urgency to get two more wins to close out this homestand.

B-. Aaron Gordon got the task of defending Ben Simmons one on one for the entire night. His minutes matched Simmons’ minutes and it was clear Gordon had the main task of stopping the Philadelphia 76ers’ best player (with <a rel=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

A. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

B. <a href=. PG. Orlando Magic. D.J. AUGUSTIN

A-. <a href=. G. Orlando Magic. MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

C+. The Philadelphia 76ers have a record you would expect. But even without Joel Embiid in the game, they were just a bit off. They had control of the game and played a see-saw battle with the Orlando Magic, but they could not get out of their own way. They fouled a lot to keep the Magic in the game at the foul line.<p>Then the fourth quarter came, and everything seemed to fall apart. They turned the ball over seven times for 11 Magic points. Philadelphia struggled to get shots to fall — the team is not great from beyond the arc anyway — and the good shots at the rim the team did get were no longer there.</p><p>Philadelphia got a great game from Ben Simmons — 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists — but could not get him going to the basket enough. Eventually, the Magic’s defense stiffened up and prevented them from getting anything inside. It was a game Philadelphia would like to forget.</p>. 7-4. 5th East. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Next. 10 observations from the Magic's first 10 games. dark

The Orlando Magic continue their homestand Friday when they welcome the San Antonio Spurs to the Amway Center.