The Philadelphia 76ers were settling into a predictable rut. After the Sixers got off to their stunning 3-0 start, they came back down and lost almost every game after that. Now the reality of a tanking, 50+ loss season is settling in for the Sixers -- but they can still create thrills every so often, like in a double overtime win over the Orlando Magic on Dec. 3.
The 126-125 victory came with two overtimes, and two triple-doubles by rookies as well. Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams returned to the form from his first week, with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Orlando's Victor Oladipo matched him with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The rookies from Syracuse and Indiana not only did this on a night where the Orange beat the Hoosiers, they also set a record by being the first two rookies with triple-doubles in the same game. However, only Carter-Williams got a win to go along with it.
The game should have ended in the first overtime, yet the Sixers blew it by fouling Aaron Afflalo on a three-pointer with a three-point lead. His three made free throws forced a second overtime, although the Magic didn't take advantage.
With Afflalo scoring 43 points and Glen Davis adding 33, they and Oladipo combined for all but 23 of the Magic's points. The Sixers were slightly more balanced, as Thaddeus Young added 25 points and 12 rebounds while four other players were in double figures.
This was the Sixers' fourth win in their last 15 games, and yet they are still only a half-game back of the first place, 8-12 Boston Celtics. The Toronto Raptors had been in first for some time, but they finally fell off after blowing a 27-point second half lead to the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 3.
That is the kind of team that was in first place in the weak Atlantic Division -- and Philadelphia is still the kind of team that can cling to second, in spite of everything. But wins like the one over the Magic, and performances like the one Carter-Williams delivered, prove that the Sixers can still show and quicken a pulse or two.