Magic returns from 21-down, beats 76ers in Fultz’s first game in Philly

For most of the first half, it looked as if the Orlando Magic’s 119-109 victory in Philadelphia on Monday was going to be a repeat of Saturday’s home loss to Chicago.

It lacked defensive intensity at the beginning. They let early shots, or the lack of them, affect their defensive effort. This led the 76ers to take a game-high 48-27 lead midway through the second quarter.

But the Magic found solutions to their problems against the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center before they did against the Bulls.

“The resilience of the group,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “It shows growth in the sense that they are learning from the experiences. They find a way to bounce back, they believe in each other and they understand that it has to be the defensive side of the ball.”

The Magic increased the defensive focus in the second quarter, six 76ers turnovers in the period, while attacking the basket more offensively.

They relied on the scoring production of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner (19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists), who added 21 points in the second, to reduce the lead to 8 and 62-52 for the second half.

We didn’t actually watch any movies. [at halftime]Banchero said of the message at halftime. “Usually we watch movies. He didn’t put any movies. He was like ‘you guys have to play harder’ and he turned us on. We just need to play better, harder and, basically, we are a very good team and we have to act like one.”

Banchero’s offensive pace continued in the third, scoring 14 of his 29 points in the fourth to give the Magic a 94-90 lead heading into the fourth.

From there, it was a committee focus and a solid defensive fourth quarter that allowed the Magic (20-31) to pick up their first win of the season over the 76ers (32-17).

Moe Wagner scored 14 of his 22 points in the quarter, attacking Joel Embiid (30 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, but 5 fouls) in the paint and helped put the 76ers big man in foul trouble.

The Magic held the 76ers to 19 points in the quarter, ending Philadelphia’s seven-game winning streak. The 76ers committed 18 turnovers to 20 Magic points and finished with 14 fewer field goal attempts than the Magic.

“I am very proud of these young men,” Mosley said. “You talk about the way the first half started. We were a little down, but those guys rallied at halftime. They went on the defensive.”

by Markelle Fultz the enthusiasm was palpable on a Monday night.

The matchup was Fultz’s first game in Philadelphia since the 76ers, the team that selected Fultz with the first pick in the 2017 draft, traded him to Orlando on Feb. 7, 2019.

He finished with 12 points and 10 assists for his first double-double of the season and had 4 steals.

“I’m excited,” Fultz told the Orlando Sentinel before Monday’s game. “It’s a little different. Obviously now, they have a different coaching staff. They got some of the players, but they still have the same feelings about going back to Philly, playing there and getting a chance to play in front of their fans.”

Playing the 76ers in Philadelphia has been a long time coming for Fultz.

He has missed the Magic’s last five games in Philadelphia due to injuries. The only “road” game he played against the 76ers was the August 8, 2020 matchup in the league “bubble” at Disney World.

“I wanted to play as soon as they traded me,” said Fultz, who sat out the remainder of the 2018-19 season after being traded to the Magic. “Obviously, I wanted to go there and play against them. Injuries and everything, I never got a chance to go down to Philly and play them.”

After nearly four years, the wait for Fultz ended Monday.

“Him and I talked about it,” Mosley said after shootaround Monday. “Obviously, he talked about how the fans have always been great fans. This is a city of fans. They’re excited. They get behind their team. This is a young guy who was recruited here, so I know they will love him here for the young man that he is.”

Being back in Philadelphia allowed Fultz to reflect on the city where he spent the first year and a half of his NBA career.

“Just passion,” Fultz said. “I feel like it’s a little bit close to home. Philly is a dirty town and the way they love their sports teams is a little different. Sometimes they give tough love. My time and experience there was very good, especially with the city. I felt that they gave me a lot of love. Just living there for a while, being able to embrace the culture they have there is quite fun.”

He added: “It was a positive thing. Everything happens for a reason, I am a firm believer in that. I am so grateful for everything Philly has done for me.”

Fultz’s time with the 76ers was difficult.

He played in just 33 of 136 regular season games during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with the 76ers due to a nerve problem in his right shoulder that was later diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome before being traded to Orlando prior to 2019. change deadline.

Fultz has changed his career since coming to Orlando.

“Not necessarily, I just think it was a matter of me getting better, really,” Fultz responded when asked if the trade was necessary for him to get his career back on track. “Everything happens for a reason. I feel like I can bring value to any team I’m on. It just happened that I was traded and I got a new opportunity. Of course, I’m grateful for that opportunity. It definitely broke new ground.”

His healthiest season came in 2019-20 when he played in 72 games (60 starts) and averaged 12.1 points (46.5% shooting from the field) and 5.1 assists in 27.7 minutes.

Fultz missed most of the previous two seasons due to a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in January 2021, just eight games into the 2020-21 season.

After a 14-month absence, he returned to the field on February 28 and averaged 10.8 points (47.4% shooting), 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20 minutes (18 games). ).

He missed the first 21 games this season after fracturing his left big toe late in the offseason, but he’s been a big reason for the Magic’s turnaround.

Fultz entered Monday averaging 12.1 points (50% shooting), 5.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 27.9 minutes (29 games).

The Magic are 15-15 in games with Fultz compared to 5-16 without him.

“I feel amazing,” Fultz said. “I still feel like I have a lot to improve and work on, but I really enjoy this process of waking up every day, enjoying it, and being able to play the game that I love and have fun doing it. The most important thing is that I am out there competing and having fun. I really enjoy the process of improving every day.”

All of the Magic players traveled for the four-game trip, including Chuma Okeke, the only player injured.

“Having all our boys [here] it’s fantastic to see,” Mosley said. “We had a movie session with everyone in the room, which was amazing.”

Okeke missed 13 straight games from November 25 to December 25. 18 due to pain in his left knee before undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery (a chondroplasty, a procedure that involves shaving/smoothing out damaged cartilage) on December 19 that has kept him sidelined ever since.

“Chuma is here, it’s great to have him on board,” Mosley said. “He is moving around the court, taking shots, working and having more physical contact with the guys. It’s very good for him to be on this journey.”

“We will slowly move him around so he has some contact with the players as we go along. It will slowly increase.”

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.


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