The Sixers (20-9) visited the Orlando Magic (18-11) on Wednesday. Philadelphia wanted to right its wrongs from Christmas Day's loss to the Heat. Orlando wanted to sweep a back-to-back after winning in Washington on Tuesday. The Sixers got contributions across the board in a 112-92 victory.

Before we get to the game, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who has a sprained right ankle.

Nico Batum has a strained right hamstring and was out.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., Terq Smith, and Ricky Council IV are on two-way G League assignments with the Delaware Blue Coats and were not available.

Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, De'Anthony Melton, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, and Paul Reed.

The Magic were without the services of Markelle Fultz, who has left knee tendinitis.

Jonathan Isaac missed the game with a sore right hamstring. Joe Ingles has a sprained left ankle and was out.

Gary Harris has a strained right calf and was not available.

Kevon Harris was listed out due to a coach's decision.

Jamahl Mosley started Anthony Black, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Wendell Carter Jr.


- Orlando trapped the very first Maxey-Reed pick-and-roll of the game, and it seemed to rattle Maxey enough to relegate him to off-ball duties for a couple of possessions. That's a problem in its own right, he has to embrace the coverage and work around it if he's going to be a lead ball-handler at the highest levels of this league. But, Philadelphia adapted to its lead guard suddenly playing off the ball quite well.

The Sixers threw three different ball-handlers at the Magic in the game's first four minutes, toggling between Harris, Oubre, and Melton in the two-man game with Reed. That level of adaptability - from multiple players - is extremely important to the true value of your depth.

Not everyone has to be a point guard. Not everyone has to be a great decision-maker or handler. But, you do need multiple guys who aren't complete disasters when asked to put the ball on the deck and navigate a crowd.

- Very good on everyone involved that the Sixers actually experimented with smaller screeners in the pick-and-roll. Harris' screen was more of a ghost screen than actual contact, but just giving a non-traditional look in the two-man game makes you less predictable. Where was that in the Miami game?

- I've loved how aggressively Nurse has moved away from man coverages and into zone schemes with this team. He's not waiting for a big deficit to try it, and he's doing it against the right teams and lineups. Orlando is one of the worst three-point-shooting teams in the league. They have tremendous size and are particularly dangerous at attacking off the dribble. It would make sense to limit penetration and force them to take threes. The Sixers were not afraid to sit in zone in the first half, daring the Magic to make shots from the perimeter. Some of the misses were flat-out embarrassing, so job well done by the visitors.

- After submitting the worst offensive game of his career on Christmas Day, Maxey battled some adversity early. The first seemed mental, the Sixers guard moving off the ball instead of embracing the challenge when the Magic trapped his first pick-and-roll with Reed. Then, he was forced to the bench with two early fouls. An unusual sequence of events for him following an ultra unusual game for the young guard. More importantly, he didn't really get a chance to establish rhythm in the opening quarter of this affair.

But, he buried a pull-up jumper late in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, he laced a deep three on the left wing coming off of an Iverson cut. He saw the ball go in a few times and calmed down, and Maxey looked like he was on his way back to being himself. He attacked the rim regardless of who was tasked with guarding him, getting difficult layups to fall through harm and exhibiting enough touch on one miss to hustle for the offensive rebound and put-back. Just what the doctor ordered.

- Oubre certainly still has his fair share of space cadet moments on defense and occasionally leaves you wondering how some of his offensive snafus happen. But, he's also a good example of how perception can be created by environment in sports.

Oubre wasn't playing big NBA minutes until the John Wall-Bradley Beal Wizards were over the hill, and he played for the hospital Warriors sandwiched between stints with the abysmal Suns and Hornets. He was perceived as an erratic offensive player who didn't do the little things that contribute to winning. And perhaps those characterizations were appropriate at his previous stops. But, those conversations are always about the player and never about how not competing for anything meaningful can affect the player.

The third quarter of this game was a great example of how feeling like you're playing for something bigger than yourself can fundamentally change the edge with which players operate. Oubre chased a steal early in the frame, diving on the floor to keep the ball alive and getting it to a teammate to create a transition opportunity for Philadelphia. He later recorded another steal and sprinted into a play to reject a would-be layup at the rim. His efforts on defense were paramount to the Sixers building a double-digit lead before the fourth quarter.

- Marcus Morris Sr.'s playing time should be dictated fairly quickly every night based on whether his first couple of shots fall. That might not be a job he particularly loves, but, unless he can turn back the clocks on his lateral quickness, that's the business. It wasn't a great start for him in this one, but Morris wound up being a steady force on offense for Philadelphia.

He gave the Magic a heavy dose of the Harris game, beating them into the floor before squaring to the basket for short jumpers out of the post. But, unlike Harris, Morris actually gave the Sixers some creativity off the dribble when given the ball around the nail. He used jump-stops and up-fakes to get control and power through his legs before rising for soft jumpers. 14 points without making a catch-and-shoot three. A nice little bump off the bench for the Sixers.

- The "Likes" would not be complete without mention of some key role players.

Mo Bamba had one of his better defensive games of the season. Not only did he offer strong contests at the rim, but he was strong on the defensive glass. There was no ripping the ball out of his hands in this one.

Patrick Beverley, of all people, showed some self-creation skills. He drew a foul on a pull-up jumper and laced a step-back long two. That postgame Miller Lite is going to be crisp.

Reed's hands on defense were great in the fourth quarter. He was critical to Philadelphia stymying Orlando's interior offense in the game's ultimate quarter. If he didn't get a block, he got a hand on the ball before the shot went up to jar it loose.


- I think Suggs is on his way to being a lot like Derrick White, and he showcased that by putting a hurting on the Sixers in the first quarter. Philadelphia was asleep in the halfcourt early in the game, and Suggs made them pay for the lack of focus with a couple of sneaky sprints through the vacant paint for easy scores at the rim. The personnel currently receiving the lion's share of the minutes is not a good off-ball defense group, and he took total advantage of that. Didn't need to dribble the ball once; he diced the Sixers with off-ball movement en route to 11 points in the first nine minutes of the game.

- Every game gives me a couple of laughs. The first one of this game was Patrick Beverley hesitating so long on an open three that the Magic were actually able to get out of rotation after being in a scramble, only to then attack his man off the dribble and convert a contested hook shot right outside the restricted area. The beautiful game.

- Really nice first-half rebound after the Christmas Day clunker for Maxey. But, man, was his defense awful in the first half of this game. Committed a silly foul on a Suggs layup and didn't wrap him up, giving away an easy and-1. Then, Suggs beat him along the baseline to get an offensive rebound and easy put-back.

The Sixers (21-9) will visit the Houston Rockets (15-13) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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