ORLANDO, Fla. – Victor Oladipo may have lost the statistical battle this time with fellow rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams – the two have opened a budding rivalry -- but Oladipo got what he wanted most.
Although Carter-Williams, the No. 11 pick from Syracuse, has been the rookie earning all the raves early this season, Oladipo, the No. 2 pick from Indiana, may be closing the gap as he adjusts to his move from shooting guard to point guard. They are the top two scoring rookies in the NBA.
"He (Oladipo) will come out of this an excellent, special player," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said after the victory. "I thought what he did tonight was pretty impressive. Those things he needs will become instinctive for him the more he is out there. He is seeing situations for the first time, and he's learning from them."
With veteran point guard Jameer Nelson leaving the game early in the second quarter with a sprained left foot, Oladipo took charge of the team, directing a well-balanced attack. He played 42 minutes in the Magic's fourth game in five days.
Center Nikola Vucevic had 21 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots, doing most of his work in the first half when the Magic took command of the game. Forward Glen Davis had 19 points and five rebounds, including 11 points in the second quarter when the Magic built a 15-point lead, their biggest of the game.
Veteran forward Arron Afflalo had 18 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter when the Magic were holding off a final charge by the Sixers. Reserve forward Andrew Nicholson had 11 points, including three consecutive baskets early in the fourth.
It was Oladipo throughout the game, making big plays mixed with bad turnovers.
The Sixers, who are allowing a league-worst 109.1 points per game, were led by reserve forward Thaddeus Young, who had 26 points in just 29 minutes. Carter-Williams had four steals, while Oladipo had five.
The Sixers (6-10) have not won a road game since their first, on Nov. 1, and have now lost six of their last seven games.
"It feels great to get a win like that," said Afflalo. "Losing Jameer, he's a key facilitator for us. We had guys, though, who were able to pick up the slack."
The Magic took a 77-73 lead going into the fourth period
Oladipo was especially impressive in the last six minutes, alongside Afflalo. When the Sixers closed to 88-85, he hit a driving layup to increase the lead to five. When the Sixers again closed to within three, Oladipo made steals on back-to-back Philadelphia possessions. He hit a 3-pointer with 3:03 remaining to give the Magic a 98-89 lead.
"His three put the game away," said Sixers coach Brett Brown. "That was the killer. We just couldn't guard them (Magic). We need to improve our ability to guard people one-on-one."
The Sixers got 13 points in the first half from Carter-Williams and 11 from Evan Turner. The Magic scored 33 points in the first quarter, but only 22 in the second when they committed seven turnovers.
"They (Magic) are a good team," Young said. "They have a lot of key guys that can go out there and score the basketball. We would make a run and try and take the lead, but not get over the hump."
NOTES: Much of the game was played with just two officials after Tre Maddox left midway through the first quarter with a leg injury. ... Sixers C Spencer Hawes missed his second consecutive game due to left knee soreness. Philadelphia started C Daniel Orton, who spent two seasons in ORLANDO after the Magic made him a first-round selection in 2010. ... The game included a matchup of the two top-scoring rookies in the league, 76ers G Michael Carter-Williams (17.3 ppg) and Magic G Victor Oladipo (12.7 ppg). Carter-Williams (Syracuse) was the 11th pick, and Oladipo (Indiana) was the second selection. While Carter-Williams played point guard in college, Oladipo was a shooting guard and is struggling with turnovers trying to adapt to the point guard role. ... Vaughn played for, and coached alongside, 76ers coach Brett Brown when they were both in San Antonio. "I'm not surprised (Vaughn) became a head coach," said Brown, 52, in his first NBA head-coaching job. "You could see he had great leadership skills. The speed of it (happening) may have caught people off guard."