The Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers have both seen last month’s struggles carry into December.
Orlando, though, may feel better about getting on track given its recent efforts in the series.
Hoping to have Nikola Vucevic available, the visiting Magic try to continue their domination of the 76ers as these teams meet for the second time in six days on Tuesday night.
Currently last in the Southeast Division, Orlando (6-11) has dropped nine of 12 after getting blown out 98-80 at Washington on Monday. Arron Afflalo had 21 points and Maurice Harkless added 16 off the bench, but the Magic shot just 39.0 percent while being held to a season low in points.
“We had great looks, I think we had great opportunities, but we just didn’t finish,” said rookie Victor Oladipo, who scored 13. “So you live to play again. We got a back-to-back, so we just got to bounce back.”
The Magic have had the 76ers’ number over the years, taking three straight matchups and 21 of 25 dating to December 2006. They won 105-94 on Wednesday behind 21 points and 16 rebounds from Vucevic, outscoring Philadelphia 52-36 in the paint.
“When you look at their interior bigs … we couldn’t guard them, and we had to go to schemes and different ways to get help to our bigs,” 76ers coach Brett Brown told the NBA’s official website. “It’s a problem.”
Philadelphia, though, could catch a break if Vucevic can’t go. The third-year center suffered an ankle injury Monday, leaving his status uncertain.
Vucevic, who spent the first season of his career with the 76ers, has averaged 14.0 points and 16.5 boards in four meetings against his former team.
Philadelphia (6-12) has dropped a season worst-tying four straight and eight of nine, falling 115-100 at Detroit on Sunday. Thaddeus Young had 24 points and Evan Turner scored 20 for the 76ers, who were outscored 70-46 in the first half and never recovered.
The 76ers are giving up a whopping 110.1 points per game to rank last in the league, 7.1 more than the next-closest team. They’ve also yielded a league-worst 192 3-pointers.
“It’s pretty obvious we need to come out better,” said rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who had 15 points and six steals. “We need to play better defense. We’re doing fine scoring the ball, it’s not the points, it’s our defense. We have to come together, stop penetration, stop their big men from scoring easily at the basket. It’s a team effort and we have to put the pieces together.”
Carter-Williams recorded 23 points and four steals against the Magic last week while Oladipo had 18 and five. The first-year stars are averaging 17.0 and 13.2 points to rank first and second, respectively, among all rookies.
“Through the draft process we grew our relationship, so it’s always fun being competitive going against your friends,” Oladipo, who had eight turnovers in the first matchup, said of Carter-Williams. “So I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
While Oladipo’s mark of 3.8 turnovers per game ranks as one of the worst in the NBA, he’s had only three in the two games since Wednesday’s loss.
“His decision making, he’s starting to realize that simplicity is a good key for him,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Overall, he’s been correcting a lot of mistakes that he can correct.”
In addition to Vucevic, Orlando could again be without Jameer Nelson, who has missed back-to-back games with a sprained left foot.