No Dwight Howard. No Glen Davis. No Hedo Turkoglu.
Despite missing three of its biggest contributors, the Orlando Magic (36-25) used a balanced team attack to overcome a shorthanded lineup and beat the reeling Philadelphia 76ers, 113-100, Monday night at the Amway Center.
Even without Dwight Howard, who sat out for a fifth consecutive game due to a herniated lower back disk, the Magic still had six players in double figures, led by Ryan Anderson’s 26 points and 16 rebounds, to improve to 3-4 without their superstar center.
“This is the way we can win games, and this is what makes us so hard to guard especially with Turk out and with Glen out and with Dwight out,” Anderson said. “We just have to get those energy points and crash the boards like we did tonight…We moved the ball, we played great offense, and it’s because we played very unselfish tonight.”
A Magic lineup sans two starters and a key reserve player would usually spell trouble.
However, Orlando was surprisingly still able to post 113 points and have three players achieve double-doubles, despite Howard, Davis and Turkoglu’s combined 40.2 points per game watching from the bench.
“If you’re a Magic fan, and you didn’t enjoy tonight, then I don’t understand it,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Our guys played very well. I know I am extremely proud of the guys that were out there tonight.”
The Magic boasted just a six-point lead at the intermission, but a 13-4 spurt to start the third quarter gave them some cushion that Philadelphia (31-29), who is fighting with the Knicks for the seventh spot in the East, couldn’t recover from.
Although, the Sixers did make it interesting.
Louis Williams’ three-pointer with 2:45 left in the contest got Philly within seven points, but that was the closest the Sixers would get as each team traded baskets the rest of the way out.
The Magic made sure that Philadelphia’s comeback bid wouldn’t get any more serious as they continued to get contributions from all over the roster until the final buzzer sounded, overwhelming a 76ers team desperate for a victory with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
JJ Redick, starting his six-straight game, came up big with 18 points on 50 percent shooting, while Jason Richardson posted 17 points and Jameer Nelson had a double-double with 16 points and 13 assists.
The on-and-off used Earl Clark was the third Magic player to notch a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 boards for his first double-double effort of the season. Quentin Richardson rounded out the Orlando scoring with 13 points off the bench.
The Magic’s well-balanced effort and unselfish play helped them win their second straight game in a time where they are fighting for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference. With the victory, Orlando now sits in a three-way tie with Atlanta and Boston, also 36-25, for the coveted fourth seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.
“When you have purity and you’re just going out to play hard and play together and try to win, energy’s a lot easier than when it becomes about individual things,” Van Gundy said. “They’ve put all that aside now and guys are doing whatever it takes. There’s not selfishness and no agendas, everybody’s just playing.”
Although it was the Magic’s balanced effort that was the story of the game, the Sixers had a pretty unselfish game, too.
Philadelphia saw five players in double figures, led by Jrue Holiday’s 18 points and eight assists. Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young had 15 points a piece, while All-Star Andre Iguodala finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Evan Turner added 13 points and five rebounds for the 76ers.
Even with the solid team effort, Philadelphia simply couldn’t contain the Magic’s hot shooting.
Orlando shot a scorching 11-for-18 from three-point range, with five Magic players hitting multiple shots from downtown. Additionally, the Magic shot 53 percent from the field in the game.
What was even more surprising than the high scoring without key players was the Magic’s rebounding performance. Orlando held the rebounding edge, 46-30, despite the absence of the NBA’s leading rebounder.
“We out-rebounded them by 16 and that made a big difference in the game. To be up 16 on the boards without Dwight, those guys are making a great effort. On defensive rebounds, all those guys made a great effort,” Van Gundy said.
Orlando’s 13 offensive rebounds, eight of them gobbled up by Anderson, compared to Philly’s four also made a considerable difference in the game.
“They are a three-point shooting team. By them getting those extra possessions and we were in there…we are just not grabbing the ball. They could pass it out for three-point shots. They killed us on the three-point shots and the offensive rebounds,” Holiday said. “That was the game plan right there…not to let them shoot threes and no extra possessions.”
With the defeat, Philly fell into a tie with idle New York for the seventh seed and only holds a two-game advantage over Milwaukee for the eight and final spot in the East playoff picture.
The Magic will return to action Wednesday night in a critical matchup with the Boston Celtics as the two teams battle for playoff positioning with just five games remaining in the regular season.