PHILADELPHIA (AP) — When Ben Simmons went down with an injury, JJ Redick stepped off the bench and into a starring role for the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Redick scored 31 points, including a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left that lifted the 76ers over the Orlando Magic 116-115.
Redick had his best game since transitioning from starter to sixth man for the 76ers at the start of the season, making 10 of 20 shots, including eight 3-pointers.
“JJ Redick was our bell-ringer tonight,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “We needed every bit of JJ tonight to find a way of getting out of this building with a win. When Ben goes out, you realize you’re going to need help from someplace else. … We knew JJ was going to have to take up some of that slack.”
Aaron Gordon had a chance to tie it with 10 seconds remaining but missed his second free throw, and a last second jumper by Terrance Ross missed the net entirely.
Joel Embiid had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, including 19 points by halftime. He did it with an outside game in the first half but was more of a force down low after intermission.
Yet, Embiid’s biggest play was an assist to Redick on the winning shot. It was a play that went awry and resulted in a turnover in the 76ers season-opener against Boston. But the pairing made good against Orlando.
“I was (mad) in Boston because we usually understand each other so well,” Embiid said. “But I love playing with him. When it comes to sharing the ball, whether I’m going to set a screen for him or just hand the ball off I know I’m going to be happy with the outcome. The only thing is I wish he was 24 years old so we could play 10 years together, but he’s old.”
Dario Saric scored 13 points and Robert Covington had 12 as the 76ers improved to 2-1 this season.
Evan Fournier had 31 points to lead Orlando. Nikola Vucevic added 27 points and Gordon had 20.
“We played better but we should have won the game,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “We had two huge defensive mistakes late on plays that we defended the whole game. You can’t make those mistakes against a good team on the road. That game was there to be won. There were plays to be made and you got to make them.”
Simmons left the game after the first quarter with a tight back, meaning Philadelphia had to lean that much more on Embiid and Redick.
With Simmons out, Markelle Fultz was given an opportunity to play extended minutes and run the offense. Fultz finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and added seven assists with only one turnover.
However, with the game on the line, 76ers coach Brett Brown opted to use T.J. McConnell at the point and kept Fultz on the bench.
High scores have been common in the early part of the NBA season as teams are pushing the pace and trying more shots, especially from deep.
Both teams shot lights out from 3-point territory. The Sixers, paced by Redick, shot 17 of 34 (50 percent) while the Magic, led by Fournier’s six 3-pointers, shot 16 of 29 (55.2 percent).
Thirteen players attempted shots from beyond the arc, eight for Orlando and five for Philadelphia.
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