Magic vs. 76ers – NBA Game Recap – February 1, 2023
PHILADELPHIA — — James Harden declined to participate in an All-Star bid. After another exhibition game in a Philadelphia 76ers win in which he lost a rebound before a triple-double, Harden can let his stats sell his candidacy.
Joel Embiid had 28 points and 11 rebounds, Harden added 26 points and 10 assists, and the 76ers beat the Orlando Magic 105-94 on Wednesday night.
The NBA will reveal the 14 players on Thursday — seven from the Eastern Conference, seven others from the Western Conference — who have been chosen to be reserves for the All-Star Game. Reserves are selected by coaches voting for players in their conference. Embiid figures to be among those selected. Harden could be left out due to a crowded star-studded group in the East.
“If my name is called, great,” Harden said. “Otherwise bigger and better goals for the season.”
The Sixers shared the home and away game this week with Orlando. The Magic came back from a 21-point first-quarter deficit to beat the 76ers 119-109 on Monday night. The loss ended the 76ers’ seven-game winning streak.
But, despite uneven moments against a young and rising Magic team, the Sixers stabilized late and improved to 20-8 at home.
“I don’t think we played well,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But we played well enough to win. We’ll take that.
Embiid, the NBA’s leading scorer, hit all 10 free throws and shot 9 of 17 overall to help keep the Sixers within striking distance of the Eastern Conference seed.
Harden, a 10-time All-Star, hit six of Philadelphia’s 14 3-pointers and grabbed nine rebounds.
“I’m not going to sit here and plead,” Harden said. “The numbers show it.”
Markelle Fultz led the Magic with 18 points. The Magic are the most improved team in the league since a nine-game losing streak left them at 5-20 in early December. They’re 15-12 since then, including a six-game winning streak.
“I really think it’s a belief system,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Let them know that any night, anything can happen. If you play hard, you give yourself a chance.”
The Sixers used a 17-0 run in the first quarter to take a 56-53 halftime lead. The Sixers’ play with Embiid again underscored Philadelphia’s need to try to acquire a reliable backup option for the big man. The Sixers were plus-12 when Embiid played in the half, while Montrezl Harrell (minus-6) and Paul Reed (minus-3) struggled in limited action. With the trade deadline next week, 76ers president Daryl Morey will surely try to bolster the bench.
But don’t expect a seismic deal like the one at last season’s deadline, when the Sixers acquired Harden.
Rivers declined to talk about potential moves. But the Sixers’ third-year coach knows he has his best team yet in Philadelphia — one that should be fighting for a championship.
“This team, I think, is better, better equipped for the playoffs,” Rivers said. “I think we have tenacity. We are not that young. I think we have fewer holes. Every team has holes.
Magic: Made 6 of 38 3-pointers.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” Mosley said.
76ers: De’Anthony Melton and Tyrese Maxey shot a combined 1 for 11 from the floor for three quarters. Maxey drilled for a 3 midway through the fourth for a 93-83 lead. … Harden played his 14th game this season with at least 20 points and 10 assists.
DOC AND BRADY
Rivers was still the Boston Celtics coach the first time he was asked to be a guest speaker at a New England Patriots practice. Rivers had a casual friendship at the time with now-retired Tom Brady. They played golf together and Brady gave the Celtics a few pep talks. Rivers recalled the first time he spoke at a Patriots practice, Brady walked in with a notebook, a pen, and sat in the center, front row.
“Then Randy Moss came in,” Rivers said with a laugh. “He grabbed Randy. He had an empty seat he wouldn’t let anyone else sit in and he grabbed Moss and said, here. It was amazing what he was writing while I was talking. I wanted to see what he wrote. Like, this guy is crazy. I don’t know what he wrote. But it was really impressive the leadership he showed in that meeting. I thought that was really cool.
Magic: play Friday night in Minnesota.
76ers: At San Antonio on Friday.
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