76ers Now in Even Worse Shape Than Magic: A Fan’s Recap

The Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic have not been the envy of the NBA lately. Of course, Sixers fans like myself had to feel a little better about our own recent downslide, compared to the soap opera going on in Orlando. As the Magic came into Philadelphia on April 7 with a five-game losing streak, and the endless distractions that are Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy, the Sixers had to hope they could take advantage.

Instead, it turns out that Philadelphia is in more dire straits than Orlando right now. The Magic proved that by overcoming their recent on and off-court problems and salvaging an 88-82 victory. As it turns out, beating the Sixers is a lot easier than dealing with a power struggle between Howard and Van Gundy.

The embattled coach and superstar were still able to combine forces and finally stop the bleeding on the court. Howard also overcame a bad back to get his typical 22 rebounds, as well as 20 points to go with it. But he wasn't even Orlando's leading scorer, as Glen Davis supported him with 23 points as well.

Yet this was an otherwise ugly game, which makes sense considering how ugly the Sixers and Magic have been lately. Neither team could shoot 40 percent, while none of the Sixers starters even had double figures. Thaddeus Young, Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams combined for 51 points off the bench, yet it wasn't enough to balance out Howard and Davis.

As Philadelphia is all too well aware of, it may not have the makeup to balance out many opposing superstars - even embattled ones like Howard. But as bad as things are getting for Howard, Van Gundy and the Magic, they are still somewhat more secure than the Sixers in the big picture.

Philadelphia is now a season-high two games behind the Boston Celtics in the Atlantic Division - and it will be up to three if the Sixers lose to the Celtics on April 8. And at the moment, Philadelphia seems far more ill-equipped to overcome a bad spell than Orlando does.

Even when the Sixers got the gift of facing the Magic when they did, they still managed to give Orlando new life instead of themselves. Now it is fair to wonder when Philadelphia will ever revive itself - or if it still can, period. The window of opportunity for a division title is closing fast - and at the rate things are going, the window for a mere playoff berth will start closing as well.

Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.

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Updated Sunday, Apr 8, 2012