Yuck. Here's your recap roundup for yesterday's 97-92 loss to the Orlando Magic, which came in on an eight-game losing streak, started three rookies with Arron Afflalo hurt, and lost Jameer Nelson in the first quarter to an ankle sprain. For more coverage, check out our StoryStream, as well as postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor.
After a 97-92 loss to the Orlando Magic, Coach Randy Wittman didn't feel like offering much praise for John Wall, who scored a game-high 35 points, or even Martell Webster, who returned after missing the previous two games with an abdominal strain to score 19 points.
"I don't think anybody had a good performance. We lost," Wittman said. "These are the games, if we're going to get to that next stage of being a good team, you've got to win. We just go through the motions against teams like this. It cost us. I mean, how many games this year has it been? That's what good teams do and we're not a good team yet. Because we're not doing that."
It was not a well-played game by either team - Orlando shot just 43 percent and Washington only 37 percent - but the Magic were able to make plays when they needed them.
Orlando led by as many 16 points in the first half, used an 8-0 spurt at the end of the third quarter to go ahead 78-71, and took a 91-84 lead with 3:15 left in the game on a steal and three-point play by Harris.
The Wizards are now 3-11 against teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings. It is a strange phenomenon in a season when the Wizards have had success against several of the NBA's elite teams. To add to the mystery the Wizards are a good defensive team, but they struggled to deal with the Magic in the first half.
The Magic at one point led by 16 points in the first half and at halftime enjoyed a 58-46 advantage. From the floor the Magic shot 51 percent and scored 34 of their 58 first half points in the paint. In short the Wizards were outplayed by a Magic team that started three rookies and lost Jameer Nelson in the first quarter to a sprained ankle.
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.
The Wizards got a little healthier for this one as Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, and A.J. Price returned, but Bradley Beal and Nene were still out. The game began evenly matched as both teams shot about 50% in the first quarter and the Magic held a slim one point advantage. The Magic would build on that lead with a dominant second quarter and went into the half up by 12.
By the time Orlando led 58-46 at the half, Harris had 17 total points and his team was shooting 51%. Washington only had six assists as Wall led with 18 points. He was the only player in double figures scoring. The Wizards took the lead in the third quarter 63-62 on free throws by SG Garrett Temple, but the Magic ended on an 8-0 run to regain it 78-71. Their bench contributed 41 points in the victory, led by 15 from G E'Twaun Moore. Harris finished with a career-high 30 points and 11 rebounds. Wall and SF Martell Webster were the only Wizards to score in double figures.
Even with Emeka Okafor, one of the league's better interior defenders, manning the middle, Orlando had no trouble getting inside for easy scores. In a two-minute, 50-second stretch in the first quarter, Orlando recorded five dunks. One reason for that success is O'Quinn's presence. The Magic ran their offense through the rookie center in the high post, pulling Okafor away from the rim. Three of O'Quinn's four first-quarter assists led to dunks.
Magic officials wanted to use the final weeks of the season to evaluate whether Harris can be an effective NBA power forward. On Friday, he showed he can keep his cool down the stretch of a close game. He also made a crucial defensive play; with the Magic clinging to a 93-90 lead in the final minute, he successfully contested a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Trevor Ariza.