December 2, 2020

Wizards fight back from big first half deficit, fall short again versus Magic 105-98

The Orlando Magic have had the Washington Wizards number over the past three seasons. Wednesday night at the Verizon Center was much more hotly contested than the team’s previous match-ups in Orlando this season, but despite having a seven point second half lead and battling back from another double digit first half deficit the Magic held on to down the Wizards, 102-95.

The Wizards haven’t beaten the Magic since February 5th of 2010.

Ryan Anderson had 23 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Magic, who also shot an impressive 15-36 from three point range.

John Wall led the Wizards with 33 points (13-for-25 from the field), four assists, thre boards, two steals and only one turnover, while Jordan Crawford pitched in 18 points (14 in the third quarter) and led the Wizards with five assists.

Washington featured a new starting lineup that had Nick Young and JaVale McGee on the bench in favor of Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin. McGee had started every game for the team this season, and Young had started 32 straight. It was Seraphin’s first start of the season and only the second of his career. It continued a post-All Star break trend reapportioning minutes to bench players.

Offense was hard to come by with their leading scorer and rebounder on the bench. The Wizards only mustered four points in the game’s first five mintues. But McGee seemed to get the message, playing great defense on his first two possessions against Howard and hitting a foul line jumper on offense.

The Magic then went on a 11-0 run to build a 25-8 lead, including two and-ones from Howard. They led 27-11 when the Wizards went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter, with five of those points coming from a motivated McGee.

The Wizards cut the lead to 40-38 on Wall’s first assist of the night, a three pointer from Roger Mason with two minutes to go in the half. But the Magic scored the next five points, and were able to escape to the locker room up 46-41.

Washington had 14 second chance points off of eight offensive rebounds to help them keep pace. Wall (13 points) and Jason Richardson (12) were the only double digit scorers in the half, as each team featured a balanced attack.

Jordan Crawford hit three quick long jumpers to start the second half, giving the Wizards a 47-46 lead, their first of the game. Wall’s layup in transition gave the Wizards a 60-53 lead, but the Magic went on a 5-0 run. They would take the lead minutes later on a JJ Reddick three-pointer that made it 68-67.

Orlando extended their lead to 79-70 on back to back threes from Ryan Anderson and Chris Duhon, capping an 11-0 run that took them into the fourth quarter. The Wizards responded with back to back baskets to pull within five, but Glen Davis scored four straight to keep the home team at a distance.

Wall responded with six straight points, two on a finger roll layup before converting on back to back jumpers. Wall had all 10 of the Wizards points in the quarter at that point, and a Mo Evans three pointer knotted the score at 83.

As they’d done all night, the Magic responded with some hot shooting beyond the arc. They hit back to back threes to regain a six point advantage.

The teams traded baskets after several hard fought possessions, culminating in a confrontation between Trevor Booker and Richardson on a rebound. The energy made for exciting basketball, but the Wizards were unable to cut into the lead. They also squandered an opportunity when Wall fouled Anderson while shooting a desperation three pointer at the tail end of the shot clock. Anderson made all three and gave the Magic a 95-87 lead.

McGee and Young were nowhere to be seen at the game’s most critical juncture, with the two accumulating 16 and 19 minutes respectively—and none down the stretch. Asked if he understood why Randy Wittman had him on the bench, McGee quizzically replied “I can’t say I do, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out sooner or later.”

Despite improved defense on Howard Orlando’s rebounders and outside shooters were able to keep the Wizards at bay, and the game’s final minute was hardly contested compared with the previous 23.

Washington has two days off before they face the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Saturday, where Andray Blatche may be available once again for the first time since January 28th. “Saturday will feel like Christmas for me,” he was quoted as saying earlier in the day. We’ll see if Wizards fans feel the same.

%d bloggers like this: