For three quarters, the Wizards followed the only blueprint they could use to win a game without John Wall. They protected the ball on offense, they didn’t give up cheap baskets on defense, and they didn’t let the Magic crowd get into the game. Following that plan was enough to help them take a 9 point lead into the final quarter.
Kelly Oubre added a three pointer on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, but after that, it was all downhill. The Magic ripped off an 18-0 run, highlighted by timely threes from Jeff Green and Evan Fournier and outstanding rim protection by Bismack Biyombo. The run allowed the Magic to take a six point lead and it was enough to allow them to hold on for an 88-86 win to snap the Wizards’ 12 game winning streak against Orlando.
Washington did all the right things to avoid beating themselves, but without their star, they didn’t have enough scoring punch to beat anyone else either.
Satoransky holds it down in his first NBA start
Tomas Satoransky got the starting nod with John Wall sitting the game out. He didn't stuff the stat sheet, but he was still an important part of what the team did well. He only committed one turnover, he kept Elfrid Payton in check, and did enough offensively to keep the pressure off Beal to initiate all the offense. It wasn’t enough to secure the win tonight, but it should remove any doubt about who should be the primary facilitator behind John Wall.
Forget the final minute, Markieff
The thing that people will remember most from tonight’s game is how Markieff Morris missed two open threes and a free thrown in the closing seconds that could have lifted the team to victory. That’s a shame because up until that point he put together a very, very nice game.
He did an incredible job defensively in the low post, whether he was going up against Serge Ibaka or Nikola Vucevic. He made it a frustrating night for both players a night after doing the same thing to Paul Millsap. He also made an impact on the other end, drawing several fouls and shouldering some of the playmaking load with John Wall out.
He’s been great all season at adapting his role to what the team needs from game to game. When the offense isn’t clicking, he can take over for a few possessions to get them going, when they need him to focus entirely on the defensive end and let other guys get it done on offense, he can do that too. Washington has had their share of issues this season, but Morris hasn’t been one of them.
Bench struggles again, but at least they scored a little bit
With Wall out and Satoransky in the starting lineup, there was potential for an especially disastrous performance from the bench. Defensively, they lived up to expectations. Orlando’s reserves scored 43 points, led by Wizards Serial Killer Jeff Green, who had 18 points and 3 assists in 15 minutes.
But on the bright side, at least they brought a little something on the offensive end. Marcus Thornton and Andrew Nicholson both had 9 points, and Kelly Oubre got out of his funk to chip in 5 points.
It’s hard to see the defense getting much better until Ian Mahinmi returns, but if they can at least get a little better at responding on the other end, it will go a long way in helping the starters when they return to the floor.