Payton helps Magic beat winless 76ers 105-97
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Evan Fournier pulled Elfrid Payton to the side before Orlando's game at Philadelphia and reminded him how important he is to the team and how much everyone believes in him.
It looked as if the talk worked.
Payton scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and the balanced Magic beat the 76ers 105-97 on Saturday night.
''It was his best game of the season,'' Fournier said. ''We need E.P. to play that way every night. I know when E.P.'s playing good, we're usually in good shape.''
Payton was coming off a scoreless performance in 15 minutes in a 92-87 victory against Toronto on Friday. He was averaging just 7.0 points on 32 percent shooting coming into the night.
Helped by Payton's performance, the Magic had seven players score in double figures in their third victory in four games following an 0-3 start. Fournier had 17 points, Victor Oladipo finished with 15 on 6-for-18 shooting, and Dewayne Dedmon added 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.
Philadelphia's Nerlens Noel was ejected with 1:51 left in the third quarter after getting into a tussle with Orlando's Jason Smith, who was called for an offensive foul for elbowing Noel in the ribs. Noel finished with just two points - 12 below his season average.
''It was explained to me that Jason hit him in the stomach, they called the offensive foul, and then Nerlens retaliated with an elbow to his head,'' Sixers coach Brett Brown said. ''I'll look at the tape and make a comment after that. If that is true, then the right decision was made.''
Isaiah Canaan scored 23 points for the winless Sixers, going 6 for 12 from 3-point range. Jahlil Okafor, who leads all rookies in scoring, finished with 19 points, Nik Stauskas added 18, and rookie point guard T.J. McConnell had nine assists and eight rebounds.
Trailing by 15 midway through the third quarter, Philadelphia (0-6) closed to 85-83 on Canaan's sixth 3 of the night with 6:54 remaining. But Payton helped the Magic close it out with eight points over the final 3:38.
''It was nice to see something finally go in and get a little rhythm out there,'' Payton said. ''It just carried on throughout the game.''
Mario Hezonja scored 11 points for Orlando (3-4), and fellow reserve Aaron Gordon had 10 points.
Former Sixer Nikola Vucevic missed his second straight contest with a right knee bone bruise. Dedmon took the 7-footer's place in the lineup and went 8 for 8 at the line.
After getting ejected, Noel was visibly furious, punching something on his way to the locker room. But after the game ended, he seemed to cool down a bit - although he remained adamant that he showed restraint and didn't deserve to be hit with a flagrant-2 foul.
''I got hit in my ribs,'' he said. ''I tried to be as smart of a player as I could. I reacted but I pulled away, being the smart player and (knowing) my team needed me in.''
THE SMALL THINGS
The Sixers jumped to a 13-4 lead, but Orlando responded with a 23-4 run, including the final 11 points of the first quarter.
The Sixers only held the lead once more after that, missing a few opportunities in the fourth quarter to tie the game or go ahead.
''It's the small things that are going to win you those close games,'' Stauskas said. ''And so far we just haven't been doing that. But it will come. It will come.''
Magic: Smith, who spent his first two NBA seasons with the Sixers, finished with 10 points. He was booed every time he touched the ball after his confrontation with Noel. ... Orlando has won eight of its last 10 against Philadelphia. ... The Magic went 21 for 24 from the free-throw line.
76ers: Sharpshooter Robert Covington missed his second straight game and fifth this season with a sprained knee. ... Starting forward Jerami Grant left in the fourth quarter with a left eye corneal abrasion. ... The Sixers missed 10 straight field goals from the 5:25 mark of the first quarter to the 11:14 mark of the second quarter.
Magic: Visit Indiana on Monday.
76ers: Host Chicago on Monday.