When members of the losing team speak, their words don't quite make sense, which is fitting because the loss is so confounding.
"My goodness," Magic Coach Doc Rivers said before a sigh.
This may be the worst loss of the season. It certainly should be the most frustrating.
In a bizarre conclusion, the Magic (39-35) fell apart.
Guard Jeryl Sasser, a 31 percent shooter, took the final shot in regulation.
In overtime, the Magic tried four times to do the simple task of inbounding the ball on one play and failed each time, eventually turning the ball over.
With 46.1 seconds left in overtime, Sixers guard Allen Iverson missed two free throws, but the Magic allowed Philadelphia to get the rebound and preserve a three-point lead. Then, on the next play, Aaron McKie lost the ball and gave the Magic another chance. This time, Pat Garrity missed an open 3-pointer.
It was that bad.
"I told our guys in the locker room that you just played playoff basketball," Rivers said, "and we didn't pass the first test, really."
In addition to the collapse, the Sixers (44-29) outrebounded the Magic 61-38. Forward Kenny Thomas finished with 24 points and 20 rebounds. Center Derrick Coleman had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Iverson led all scorers with 42 points, and he added six rebounds and six assists.
The loss ruined a breakthrough performance by Magic forward/center Steven Hunter. He made six of seven field-goal attempts, scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a career-high seven shots. McGrady led Orlando with 39 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but he missed 20 of 33 shots.
"It really put a bad taste in my mouth," Hunter said of the loss. "I wanted to win this game so bad. It's unfortunate that my best game had to come in a game that finished like this."
McGrady drove to the basket for a 3-point play to give the Magic a 107-97 lead with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in regulation. The Sixers closed the fourth quarter with a 13-3 spurt.
While the Magic lost concentration and made questionable decisions, the Sixers just played, much like Orlando had done in come-from-behind victories over New Orleans and Minnesota.
To conclude the comeback, guard Eric Snow hit a 17-footer over Gordan Giricek with 32.9 seconds remaining to tie the game at 110.
In the closing seconds, Orlando had two chances to win. McGrady missed a runner, but he played good defense on Iverson to force a turnover and give the Magic one more chance.
On that last opportunity, the Magic designed a strange play where McGrady ran away from Sasser, who was inbounding the ball. Sasser wound up throwing his pass to forward Drew Gooden. Gooden then passed back to Sasser, who hit the backboard on a runner as the clock expired.
"They basically switched and denied, which was something we would've done, too," Rivers said. "They basically said Tracy wasn't getting the ball and left Sass open."
Orlando scored just three points in overtime, all by McGrady, and missed five of its last six field-goal attempts.
"It's unfortunate," Hunter said. "It's a tough one to swallow."
Jerry Brewer can be reached email@example.com.