ORLANDO, Fla. -- The baby-faced Philadelphia 76ers are getting ready to take off the training wheels.
The lowly 76ers may still be the worst team in the NBA, but they won for the second time in three tries Wednesday night, pounding the Orlando Magic 96-87 despite playing without two starters in the second half.
Philadelphia recorded its first victory against another Eastern Conference team this season.
The Sixers (6-38) got 20 points from rookie center Jahlil Okafor and 17 from reserve forward Hollis Thompson. Recently acquired point guard Ish Smith, the oldest starter at age 27, had 13 points and 11 assists.
"This team is just growing up now," said Smith, who has played just 12 games with the Sixers this season. "This was another big step. The next step is learning how to lock down and finish games like this consistently. We're moving in that direction."
Starting forward Nerlens Noel didn't play in the second half because of a migraine headache and dizziness. He left the game earlier with a slight ankle sprain, but he returned to finish the first half. Starting guard JaKarr Sampson played only eight minutes in the first half and left with a hip injury.
Philadelphia reserve guard Isaiah Canaan had 15 points and hit three of his four 3-point attempts. Reserve Jerami Grant, who replaced Noel in the second-half lineup, had 12 points, including 11 in the third period when the Sixers took control of the game.
"We're getting better every game now," Okafor said. "You can see the progress."
The Magic (20-21) have lost eight of their past nine and are sliding in the opposite direction. They hoped this was the game to end their recent decline.
"It's really frustrating now," Orlando forward Tobias Harris said. "We just couldn't get consecutive stops. If you can't do that, it's tough to win. Our defense has been poor in this stretch, and it was poor again tonight."
The Magic were led by point guard Elfrid Payton, who had 21 points and 10 assists. Center Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Harris added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Magic never led in the second half and never got closer than four points in the fourth quarter.
Canaan hit a 3-pointer that upped the lead to 92-85 with 2:59 remaining. He had five points in the final three minutes to seal the victory. Okafor scored to make it 94-85 and end the Magic's chances.
"We just basically capitulated," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "They were pushing us all around on both ends of the floor. Our lack of competitiveness is frightening now."
The Sixers shot 48.6 percent from the field and hit nine of 19 3-point attempts. The Magic shot only 39.3 percent and made four of 17 shots from long range.
"It was a team effort led by our defense," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We're starting to get rewarded for staying together and working hard. We're going to get greedy now and try to keep it going."
The Sixers took an 81-71 lead into the final period, capitalizing on a 34-point third period that included 11 from Grant.
Grant started the second half and scored nine quick points to give the Sixers a 66-55 lead.
Okafor had 14 points by halftime, which ended with the 76ers holding a 47-46 lead. Smith had 11 points in the first two quarters.
NOTES: Magic G Victor Oladipo missed his second consecutive game with a sprained right knee. In his previous five games, he averaged 20 points and shot 60 percent from 3-point range. ... The Sixers were without G Nik Stauskas for the third consecutive game because of a bruised left shoulder. ... Sixers PF/C Nerlens Noel blocked 18 shots in the past six games, including two Wednesday. ... Magic F Channing Frye said before the game that he figured out what the team was lacking. "I think we need a little more swaggy, if I could use that word after being over 30," Frye said. ... The Magic used the occasion to announce a $1 million donation to be spread across 18 different charities in central Florida. ... Journeyman G Ish Smith has found a home with the Sixers, averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 assists in 12 games. In the three games before Wednesday, he averaged 23.2 points.