After getting embarrassed on its home floor on Friday night in a 120-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, the Orlando Magic hoped that it could bounce back on Saturday night against one of the Eastern Conference’s elites, the Philadelphia 76ers. Needing a better effort all the way around, the Magic ended up coming short in their bid to pickup win No. 2 on the season.

Despite getting a triple double from center Nikola Vucevic, Orlando (1-2) fell in a 116-115 heartbreaker to Philadelphia (2-1) at the Wells Fargo Center. Orlando will wrap up its brief 2-game road trip in Boston tomorrow night when they face the Boston Celtics (2-1).

”We played better but we should have won the game,” Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford said. ”We had two huge defensive mistakes late on plays that we defended the whole game. You can’t make those mistakes against a good team on the road. That game was there to be won. There were plays to be made and you got to make them.”

The Magic misses out on a golden opportunity to upend the 76ers, who were without point guard Ben Simmons for most of the contest. Simmons logged eight minutes before exiting due to a back injury. Team officials didn’t believe the injury was serious, but took more of a precautionary measure.

With Simmons out, Orlando got a big night from shooting guard Evan Fournier, who ended the evening with 31 points and connected on 6-of-10 3-pointers. Vucevic, who scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 12 assists, did everything he could to battle Philadelphia’s Star center, Joel Embiid. Aaron Gordon added 24 points for Orlando in the loss.

Embiid, a budding superstar in the making, looked near unstoppable with Simmons out of the lineup. The 7-foot-1 center scored 32 points and snagged 10 rebounds in the win. JJ Reddick came off the bench for Philadelphia and dropped 31 points.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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