By Sam Bush
The Sixers took their preseason show on the road and found a welcoming crowd in Allentown and a win over the Orlando Magic.
The Sixers staged their first exhibition game in Allentown in 40 years, beating the Magic 95-84 at the PPL Center, and while most of the top-level players for both teams sat out the game, the star may have been the venue itself.
It was no wonder that the biggest ovation of the night came when former heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes was introduced. At least he was a recognizable face.
Only about half of the 8,500 seats were filled, giving the Sixers a taste of what to expect all winter in the Wells Fargo Center as they go through yet another rebuilding year while waiting for top draft picks Joel Embiid and Dario Saric to get on the floor and for last year’s top pick Nerlens Noel to show what he can do.
Even at full strength, these Sixers aren’t expected to be very good, and they put out what amounted to a JV team on Saturday.
The Sixers, meanwhile, proved they can win a game and score a lot of points in one quarter.
They might want to think about playing in Allentown more often after scoring 37 points in the first quarter en route to just their second win in six preseason games.
Drew Gordon, a New Mexico product trying to find a spot on the roster, led a balanced attack with 16 points and outdueled his brother, Aaron.
Gordon was 6-for-9 from the field, so obviously he found little problem with the shooting backdrop of the PPL Center.
“I like this arena,” Gordon said. “It’s a little cold sitting on top of an ice rink sitting on the floor, but I like the atmosphere. The rims are pretty soft, so it gives you a shooter’s touch and the backdrop was fine. It was a great experience to be here for the first game and for us to get a win.”
Gordon and all the Sixers hope they won over some fans.
“We need all we can get,” he smiled. “The more, the merrier.”
The 6-9Gordon, a 24-year-old undrafted free agent forward trying to earn a roster spot after playing two seasons overseas, was 6-of-9 from the field as the Sixers improved to 2-4. Younger brother Aaron, who is also 6-9 and five years younger, was the fourth pick in this year’s draft out of Arizona. Aaron did not score for the Magic while playing a little over five minutes in the first half.
Andrew Nicholson scored 23 points to pace Orlando (4-2).
The Magic, which trailed by 26 points early in the third quarter, twice crept within eight in the closing minutes, but could get no closer.