PHILADELPHIA — When it ended — and it ended 3 hours, 12 minutes after it began — you could tell that what had just transpired had taken a toll on the Orlando Magic.
A hoarseness crept into Jacque Vaughn’s voice. Glen Davis sat at his locker, with his shoulders slumped forward as he studied the box score. Arron Afflalo wore a wry smile on his face, as if he couldn’t believe what happened.
Few others inside Wells Fargo Center could believe it, either.
The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Magic 126-125 in a pulse-pounding game that required two overtimes to finish.
“It’s a loooong game to lose by one,” Afflalo said.
Four and a half months remain in the NBA regular season, but it’s difficult to imagine the Magic experiencing as many twists and turns, as many peaks and valleys as they endured in this one.
It produced career-high scoring totals for Afflalo and Davis.
It included mammoth performances by Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams, the first time in NBA history that two rookies recorded triple-doubles in the same game.
It featured 23 lead changes and 16 ties.
“You dream about stuff like that,” Oladipo said. “You dream about different outcomes, of course. But to be able to play in an atmosphere like that was a blessing.”
Going into the night, the Magic had little reason to expect much from their offense. Injuries to point guard Jameer Nelson and center Nik Vucevic forced Vaughn to employ a patchwork starting lineup that had played a total of four minutes together all season.
The Magic had even less reason to expect to recover from a seven-point deficit against the 76ers with 4:17 to go in the fourth quarter.
But they did — thanks to Afflalo and Davis.
The two veterans combined to score Orlando’s final 17 points in the fourth quarter to will the Magic back into the game.
With the Magic trailing 104-101, Davis hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 18 seconds left in regulation to tie the score.
“I was shooting the ball really, really well,” Davis said. “I was open. Shooting the ball really, really well, you don’t have a conscience. You just shoot it. And it went in. I wasn’t really thinking. I was just playing.”
Davis finished with a career-high 33 points on 15-of-24 shooting.
Philadelphia’s Evan Turner missed a contested layup with one second left, forcing the game into overtime.
Afflalo scored a career-high 43 points.
And he saved his most improbable points for late in the first overtime.
With Orlando down 118-115, he positioned himself beyond the arc and drew a shooting foul on Turner. Afflalo made all three of his free throws to tie the game.
But the Magic — and, especially, Afflalo, who played 52-plus minutes — just didn’t have enough energy left for a second overtime.
He missed his first five shot attempts in the second extra period.
Carter-Williams, the reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October and November, scored three points, grabbed a rebound and distributed a pair of assists in the second overtime.
On Tuesday, the leading contenders for NBA Rookie of the Year honors didn’t disappoint.
Carter-Williams finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
“It’s not me versus Oladipo,” Carter-Williams said. “It’s Sixers versus Orlando.”
Oladipo scored a career-high 26 points, collected 10 rebounds, distributed 10 assists and turned the ball over just three times.
Friendly off the court, they talked a little trash to each other on it.
“It’s always fun to compete against a friend,” Oladipo said. “The sky’s the limit for him.”
After Philly’s James Anderson missed two free throws with 9.8 seconds left in the second overtime and Philadelphia leading 125-122, the Magic had one more chance to tie the score.
But Afflalo’s 3-point try from the left corner barely missed.
The end result could’ve been different for the Magic (6-12).
Without Vucevic, they were missing their best defensive rebounder, and the Sixers (7-12) took advantage of the big center’s absence.
Philly piled up 20 offensive rebounds and scored 31 second-chance points.
“That was huge for us,” Vaughn said. “I think the last time we played them, we kind of controlled the boards. This time, they outrebounded us by almost 20. That was a lot. That was a big difference in the night.”
Now comes the hard part for the Magic.
They'll have to find a way to recover physically and emotionally.
“I’m so tired,” Afflalo said. “Obviously, I’m upset that we lost. But under the circumstances of how we were able to stay in the game, I’m extremely proud of the guys and what they did tonight. It seemed like we had some career efforts all around the board.”