March 20-- ORLANDO, Fla.-The Orlando Magic finally woke up Monday night.
And not a moment too soon, either.
After a listless first half, they recovered from a 16-point deficit midway through the third quarter and beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-109, in overtime at Amway Center.
Evan Fournier scored seven points in overtime, and Terrence Ross sank a 16-foot jumper that put Orlando ahead 106-104 with 34.7 seconds left in the extra period.
Ross had made only three of his 14 shot attempts before he swished the go-ahead shot.
Philadelphia's T.J. McConnell missed a 15-foot jumper that would've tied the score at 106. Instead, Ross collected the defensive rebound, absorbed a foul and then made a pair of free throws to extend Orlando's lead to 108-104.
The Magic needed all of those points to eke out the victory.
The Sixers' Nik Stauskas countered with a 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go, cutting the Magic's lead to 108-107.
Fournier then made a pair of free throws with 11.4 seconds left.
Philadelphia's Robert Covington missed a 3-pointer that would've tied the score.
For long stretches Monday, it looked like the Sixers (26-44) dominated the Magic (26-45).
But the Magic received an emotional boost in the fourth quarter from reserve center Bismack Biyombo, who rejected a dunk attempt by Richaun Holmes as Philadelphia led 87-83 with 7:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. Biyombo's play prompted all the players on the Magic's bench to leap off their seats and show some signs of life.
A couple of minutes later, Elfrid Payton blocked a short-range shot by Shawn Long from behind.
And, suddenly, the Magic had momentum.
With the Magic trailing 97-96, Fournier drove toward the lane and lost control of the ball. But Payton scooped it up off the parquet floor and made a difficult layup in traffic to regain the lead 98-97 with 1:19 to go.
The Magic clung to that one-point lead when Aaron Gordon fouled out with 20.7 seconds left and send Justin Anderson to the line. Anderson made only one of his two attempts to tie the score 98-98.
Orlando called a timeout to set up one final play before the end of regulation.
The Magic inbounded the ball to Fournier, who attempted to pass the ball to Nikola Vucevic. McConnell deflected the ball off Vucevic's right shoe, and the ball rolled out of bounds with 5.7 seconds remaining.
Given a chance to win the game outright, the Sixers hurled the ball to Anderson, who tried to drive on Payton. But Payton grabbed the ball out of Anderson's hands, prevented a shot attempt and sent the game to overtime.
The Magic won consecutive games for the first time since they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 23 and routed the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 26.
The Sixers had only nine players available against the Magic, and most of those players, with the exception of rookie Dario Saric, are journeymen or fringe NBA players.
The Sixers also were playing on the second day of a back-to-back after they defeated the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon.
The Magic returned Saturday from a week-long road trip, but fatigue should not have been an issue. They returned from Arizona the day after they beat the Phoenix Suns so they could get the proper rest. Coach Frank Vogel also gave the team Monday morning off so they could get another good night's sleep.
The Magic trailed by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter, but they slowly cut the deficit.
Payton endured a rotten first half. He picked up his second foul with 7:58 remaining in the first quarter. Vogel kept Payton in the game, and Payton was whistled for his third foul a couple of minutes later, forcing Vogel to sub out Payton for the remainder of the half.
The Magic's transition offense sputtered without Payton.
The Sixers took a 48-35 lead late in the second quarter on a putback layup by Covington. A short while later, Saric made a pair of free throws to extend the Sixers' lead to 15 points, their largest lead to that point.
The Magic couldn't take care of the basketball during the first half, turning the ball over 10 times. Without Payton, their offense lacked sharpness.
But Payton finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and he also made a few key defensive plays down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
The Magic woke up, all right.
They barely woke up in time.
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