Magic Run Out of Gas Late in Close Battle with Sixers

Cole Anthony makes his return and has a big night
by Josh Cohen

The Lead

One would think a player who missed five straight games and eight of nine would need some time to shake off the rust. Not for Cole Anthony, however, as the 6-foot-3 guard erupted for 26 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, in his return to the lineup. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Orlando Magic ran out of gas late in a 116-106 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at Amway Center.

Clutch Moments

A 12-4 Magic run, which started with five minutes and change left, cut their deficit from 11 to three. The Sixers responded by scoring the game’s last seven points. Seth Curry, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and 12 assists, made two consecutive shots in that final stretch, including an AND-1 with 1:23 remaining.

Top Performers

The Magic and their fans breathed a sigh of relief when Anthony reentered the game late in the third quarter after he turned his left ankle earlier in the period during a 3-point attempt. His left foot following the shot, which he made, landed on the back of a teammate’s foot, causing it to twist. Along with his 26 points, he corralled five rebounds and dished out seven assists. Mo Bamba, meanwhile, recorded a season-best 19 points.

In the News

Franz Wagner was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December with averages of 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. The 6-foot-10 forward scored 20-plus points in eight of Orlando’s 14 games, including against the Bucks on Dec. 28 when he exploded for 38 points, tied for the third-most points by a rookie in Magic history. He’s the eighth Orlando player to be named a Rookie of the Month, joining Dennis Scott, Shaquille O’Neal (four times), Anfernee Hardaway (twice), Mike Miller (twice), Victor Oladipo (twice), Elfrid Payton and R.J. Hampton.

Quote of the Night

“I think he’s going to be really good, and I told coach (Jamahl) Mosley that I’m proud of the job he’s doing…Bunch of young guys trying to teach them how to win. They play the right way. But I (think) he’s done a great job. Wins are not showing up, but I watch a lot of (Magic) games. They are always in every game. You look at the Boston game. They probably should have won that game…Obviously they gave Chicago some trouble, and tonight the game was closer than what the score says. So, they play hard. I think he’s going to be extremely good, and he needs to keep working.” Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid on Wagner and the Magic

Injury/Health Report

Robin Lopez (health and safety protocols), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Matisse Thybulle (health and safety protocols), Tyrese Maxey (health and safety protocols), Paul Reed (health and safety protocols), Shake Milton (back contusion), and Ben Simmons (personal reasons) were unavailable for Philadelphia.

This Day in History

Steve Francis posted 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Grant Hill scored 21 points to lead the Magic to a comeback victory over the Seattle Supersonics on Jan. 5, 2005. Ray Allen led the Sonics with 30 points, while Rashard Lewis, who a few years later joined the Magic, had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Rivals Report

When will the Simmons saga end, and even more importantly, how will it end? The trade deadline is Feb. 10, giving the Sixers a few more weeks to explore options if they indeed decide to deal him midseason. Otherwise, they could wait and see what develops over the summer, should Simmons continue to hold out. Philly’s season so far has been filled with extreme highs and extreme lows. They won eight of their first 10, then lost eight of their subsequent 10. They’ve now won six of their last seven.

Up Next

The Magic will make their second and final trip to Detroit this season to take on the Pistons on Saturday at 7 p.m. The first meeting between these teams on Oct. 30 was won by Detroit, which got 22 points from Jerami Grant and 18 points from Kelly Olynyk. The Pistons most recently pulled off a shocker by going into Milwaukee and knocking off the defending-champion Bucks. Saddiq Bey exploded for 34 points, while 2021 No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham recorded 19 points and seven assists.

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