Since the veteran point guard joined the starting lineup, the Magic have won three straight. They’ll look to keep that streak alive when they meet the Philadelphia 76ers, who will likely again be without Allen Iverson.
Orlando has won six of eight since a 19-game losing streak, and no longer has the worst record in the Eastern Conference. With Sunday’s 104-93 win over the Toronto Raptors, the Magic moved a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks.
“He’s doing everything for us. We have a solid veteran point guard. He’s the reason why we’re playing so well,” McGrady said. “Thank God we are in the East.”
McGrady led the Magic with 29 points Sunday, and Strickland added 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 31 minutes.
“I told the coaches when I got here that we just need that one win,” said Strickland, who signed with Orlando on Nov. 25. “When you lose that many games it’s tough. You have to lack confidence to go through that, but winning breeds confidence.”
The Magic will look to continue building confidence against the Iverson-less Sixers, who have dropped three of four without their star shooting guard.
Iverson, who leads the NBA in scoring, is out with a swollen right knee that could keep him sidelined until early January.
The Sixers certainly missed Iverson’s scoring abilities down the stretch Sunday, as they wasted a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and fell to the Boston Celtics 87-84.
Aaron McKie, who started in Iverson’s place, led the Sixers with 24 points, but Philadelphia was outscored 30-19 in the final period and allowed Boston to go on a 14-0 run.
“I thought we had that game won,” said Sixers rookie Kyle Korver, who was 5-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 18 points. “But they made that run and hit some 3’s.”