Vucevic Outstanding Against Embiid, Sixers

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - Nikola Vucevic has a 41-point performance on his résumé, two triple-doubles and he owns the Magic record for most rebounds in a game when he hauled down 29 of them against the Heat during his first season in Orlando.

Despite all of those performances and others throughout his career, it’s not outrageous or a crazy exaggeration to suggest that Wednesday’s effort was his best overall game to date.

Not only did he torch the new-look 76ers for a game-high 30 points, the eight-year NBA veteran was a gem on defense, helping limit Joel Embiid, the most prolific scoring center of this generation, to 6-of-20 shooting overall and 1-of-10 in the second half.

Even after Philly’s All-Star center got off to a hot start, particularly from 3-point range where he made three in a row to start the night, Vucevic kept battling him, ultimately preventing the third overall pick in the 2014 draft from having one of his customary scoring eruptions.

That’s not to say Embiid didn’t play well, though. He did rack up a triple-double. But, when playing against Philadelphia, it’s critical to take the ball out of his hands and force others to beat you.

Vucevic’s help defense was superb, too, sealing off the baseline multiple times when Ben Simmons or Jimmy Butler tried accelerating inside. He also deflected away a few passes.

On the other side of the floor, Vucevic was, as usual, brilliant. He made so many tremendous plays, both as a playmaker and scorer.

From an emphatic dunk over Mike Muscala to a perfectly-timed give-and-go dish to D.J. Augustin, who subsequently found Aaron Gordon for a two-handed flush to complete the possession, the former USC Trojan and native of Switzerland was sensational.

Notwithstanding Vucevic’s excellence, several others played a big part in Orlando’s comeback win. Terrence Ross was on fire once again, drilling a game-winning 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds left. He also nailed a big three after Jonathan Isaac denied Embiid at the rim during the Magic’s 21-0 fourth-quarter run.

Wes Iwundu is quickly evolving into one of the team’s primary defensive stoppers. He wasn’t too shabby on the other end either, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. As he’s been doing regularly lately, Gordon filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal.