I'm not going to lie: I'm surprised this game ended up being this close. Perhaps that speaks to the Magic's own offensive ineptitude and propensity to grind out games. Perhaps that speaks in part to the Wizards' relative resilience. But even as the Wizards hung around in the second half, I never really felt they were actually threatening to lead. Slow, painful deaths: that's what watching the Wizards is all about.
Really, this game wouldn't have been that close without Nene. He scored 20 points on 10 shots, was a +9 in the game and absolutely dominated any Orlando Magic big man in his path. He was fantastic. I really can't say much more about how awesome he was, because it just reminds me that he's on a minutes limit. If he was completely healthy, things would have been so much better this year.
Of course, the problem was that every other big man was really subpar. Earl Barron rewarded Randy Wittman's faith to start him by submitting a 1-6, two-point, five-personal-foul, one flagrant-foul performance, showing why any good outing by him is a flash in the pan. Meanwhile, the move didn't light a fire under Kevin Seraphin or Chris Singleton. Seraphin fired lots of errant post shots and played poor defense, while Singleton largely floated in his 16 minutes. The same problem that Amin discussed earlier today still exists.
The backcourt guys were OK, and Emeka Okafor at least showed more of a pulse than he did on Tuesday. And hey, they definitely did battle. But this game was a microcosm of the season as a whole in so many ways. The Wizards played hard enough, coached actively enough, battled and sometimes looked like they were going to get over the hump. They just weren't good enough.