The Wizards picked up their first road win of the year with a 94-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday evening.
Washington got off to a quick start with a 9-2 run to start the game, but Orlando countered with a couple of buckets. Their momentum was short lived. Wizards went on a 15-1 run, to push the lead out to 19 points, but that’s as big as the lead would get.
Orlando’s offense struggled throughout the first half with poor shooting and turnovers. They failed on several opportunities to cut further into the Wizards lead, and were only able to get as close as 9 points while the Wizards’ starters rested.
The Wizards’ bench also failed to take advantage of the Magic’s struggle on offense, missing 11 of their first 14 shots when they came into the game. Washington ended the half only up by 10, 48-38, after having a double-digit lead for most of the first half.
In the second half, the Magic played a much cleaner game, making fewer turnovers, and being more aggressive going towards the basket, which allowed them to cut into the Wizards’ lead. Serge Ibaka lead the charge with 12 third quarter points, scoring in a variety of ways, including hitting a three pointer that brought the Magic within two, at 67-65, which was the closest the Magic were since the very beginning of the game.
The Magic tied the game early in the 4th quarter on an Elfrid Payton jumper. From that point there were 4 lead changes, before a Marcin Gortat layup with 4:56 left gave the Wizards the lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Here’s what else we noticed from Washington’s win in Orlando:
Bradley Beal continues to play solid basketball
The Orlando Magic were extremely aggressive guarding Beal, by moving extra defenders towards him whenever he touched the ball. He responded by making sound basketball decisions, looking for the open man versus attempting to score on multiple defenders. He finished the night with 8 assists. He did not have a great shooting night, but his passing created important opportunities for his teammates.
Rebounding kept the Wizards from pulling away from the Magic
When Orlando was missing shots, they were able to get put backs and that gave them opportunities to come up with points even though they were shooting poorly. The Magic outrebounded the Wizards 49-37, including 14 offensive rebounds. Nikola Vucevic and Serge Ibaka both wreaked havoc, getting second chance opportunities throughout the game.
Washington benefited from Orlando’s sloppy offense in the first half
After starting the game off with a fury, the Wizards offense sputtered in the second quarter once they went to their bench. Thankfully, the Wizards’ offense was outdone by the Magic’s poor offense, which shot 39 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers in the first half alone.
The Wizards certainly did a great job staying active on the defensive end, but Orlando hurt themselves with lazy passes and missing some point-blank shots. Their struggles gave the Wizards an opportunity to maintain their lead in spite of their bench struggles.