After trailing by as many as 16 points, the Washington Wizards (26-46) rallied to within two points of catching the Orlando Magic (19-54) with 15 seconds remaining, but came up empty, falling 97-92 Friday night at the Amway Center.
John Wall has done everything in his power to ensure the Wizards don’t bow out early this season, even without a playoff berth in sight, but the supporting cast yet again failed to capitalize on his efforts.
Wall recorded 35 points, nine rebounds and two steals but he couldn’t pull the full weight of a Bradley Beal-less team that shot 37 percent on the night. The Wizards regained three key players who sat out Wednesday’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder – A.J. Price, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza – unfortunately for Washington, the end result was much the same.
Unlike Wednesday’s contest, however, the Wizards had a fighting chance in the second half against the Magic. Additionally, Wall received some help this time via Webster, who notched 19 points off the bench in his return after coping with an abdominal strain.
Washington started the third quarter down 58-46 but made it clear early they were going to make a run for it.
After Tobias Harris laid one in to kick things off, Wall answered with a personal 6-0 run to put Washington back in it, down 60-52.
Garrett Temple’s three-pointer extended Washington’s rally before Webster added a pair of free throws to make it 60-57 Magic. To cap off the would-be 13-0 run, Emeka Okafor slammed one in to bring Washington within one.
On a pair of free throws from Temple, the Wizards finally took the lead – 63-62 – with 6:42 remaining, and the two teams went back and forth until Andrew Nicholson and E’twaun Moore enabled Orlando to pull in front a bit. The Magic finished out the quarter up 78-71 and – more importantly – they seemed to regain momentum.
But, the Wizards refused to concede.
Just two and a half minutes in, Webster and Ariza went back-to-back from behind the arc to tie the game at 78 points apiece.
The Magic seemingly took control of the game once more after Moore, Nicholson and Maurice Harkless brought Orlando to an 88-80 lead.
The Magic might have silenced the Wizards then, had Washington not shot 28-for-32 from the line – including 10 baskets in the final four minutes of play.
Wall’s two free throw completions with 15 seconds remaining pulled Washington back within two points – down 94-92 – but they couldn’t muster another shot attempt before Harris sank three free throws of his own to make it 97-92 for the final.