COMMENTARY | For the first time in NBA history Tuesday night, a pair of rookies went for triple-doubles in the same game as Michael Carter-Williams and the Philadelphia 76ers edged Victor Oladipo's Orlando Magic 126-125 in double-overtime.
The matchup was the second between the NBA's top two Rookie of the Year candidates this season, and one that fans around the league will be intrigued to watch for years to come.
The Orlando Magic overcame an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to grab the lead late in a thrilling contest that went back and forth for the final parts of the night. Veteran guard Arron Afflalo went for a career-high 43 points for the Magic while forward Glen Davis also added a career-high with 33 points for Orlando. But, in the end, it was the rookies who stole the show.
In the first matchup between Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo last week in Orlando, it was Oladipo who made the plays down the stretch and finished with the better night. While Carter-Williams held the scoring edge that night, 23-18, Oladipo was much more efficient, shooting 7-for-11 from the field while the Philadelphia rookie went 9-for-21. Oladipo also finished with a better +/-, more assists and more steals in a 105-94 Magic victory.
On Tuesday night, however, it was Carter-Williams that made the plays down the stretch. Carter-Williams made the free throw in the decisive second overtime that put Philadelphia ahead for good and either scored or assisted on each of the 76ers' three overtime field goals.
Carter-Williams finished the night with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for Philadelphia in the victory while having a remarkably efficient shooting night. Carter-Williams shot 11-for-19 from the field and also recorded three steals.
Prior to Tuesday, Oladipo had yet to notch a double-double at the NBA level but against Philadelphia, Oladipo converted his first career-triple double. Oladipo finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on the night, all of which were career-highs. But unlike Carter-Williams, Oladipo couldn't make enough plays in the second overtime.
Nevertheless, Tuesday's matchup of the NBA's top two rookies was one for the ages. Both players recorded triple-doubles while it was Carter-Williams' team who got the victory. While Orlando and Philadelphia are both in rebuilding stages, the teams appear to have solid building blocks in place with two of the league's brightest young guards.
As if it wasn't already evident, the Rookie of the Year race in the NBA is between two players and both were on display in the city of brotherly love on Tuesday night. While Oladipo has come on strong of late, Carter-Williams is certainly the frontrunner for the award, leading NBA rookies in virtually every category. Carter-Williams is also tasked with carrying a bigger load of the Philadelphia offense than Oladipo is for the Magic.
While he couldn't deliver his team a victory Tuesday, Oladipo proved that the gap between he and Carter-Williams is a very slim one if a gap even exists at all. As much fun as watching Tuesday's duel was, the good news is that basketball fans have years of watching the two youngsters go at it still to come.
Oladipo and the Magic were able to take Round 1 in Orlando last Wednesday while Round 2 went to Carter-Williams and the Sixers on Tuesday in thrilling fashion. The only shame is that Round 3 won't take place until February 26 in Philadelphia.
Mike Ferguson is a Central Florida native and an Orlando Magic contributor for Yahoo Sports.
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- Orlando Magic
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