Jimmy Butler drives past Orlando's Evan Fournier during the first half. Picture: John Raoux/AP
Jimmy Butler drives past Orlando's Evan Fournier during the first half. Picture: John Raoux/AP

Philadelphia blows it in Butler’s debut

PHILADELPHIA blew a 16-point fourth quarter lead as the Jimmy Butler era began with a disappointing 111-106 defeat against Orlando on Thursday (AEDT).

The 76ers were cruising at 92-76 early in the final quarter before the Magic reeled off 21 unanswered points to set up the win.

Ben Simmons tied the score at 106-106 with two crunch free throws in the final minute but Terrence Ross hit a huge three-pointer to break the tie with 8.7 seconds on the clock.

JJ Redick's game-tying triple was rubbed out because he stepped out in the lead-up to his shot.

Sixers coach Brett Brown relegated Markelle Fultz to the bench as Butler joined a starting five of Joel Embiid, Simmons, Redick and Wilson Chandler.

The early signs were promising as Embiid and Redick (22 points, six assists) connected on several three-point attempts and Butler (14 points) found ways to score with smart movement off the ball.

Jimmy Butler makes a shot as he cops some attention from Orlando's Wesley Iwundu. Picture: John Raoux/AP
Jimmy Butler makes a shot as he cops some attention from Orlando's Wesley Iwundu. Picture: John Raoux/AP

Simmons was the one who appeared to benefit least from the new arrangement as he took only five shots for the entire game while finishing with a stats line of nine points, six assists and three rebounds.

After a strong third quarter it fell apart as Embiid (19 points, 6/20 shooting, 10 assists, 13 rebounds) fell in love with the outside shot and Orlando's Nikola Vucevic (30 points) proved unstoppable.

It was up to Chandler to stop the 21-0 run with back-to-back baskets, but he was taken out for crunch time as Brown chose Mike Muscala to play with his starters.

Fultz was solid off the bench scoring eight points (4/6 shooting) but it was another sub-par showing on the road from the 76ers, who are 2-7 away from home this season and dropped to 9-7.

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