John Wall went off for a career-high 52 points, going 18-31 from the field, 5-8 from deep, and 11-14 from the line, but it wasn’t enough for the Wizards to pick up a win at home. Washington fell to 7-13 on the season with a 124-116 loss to the Magic.
The first quarter featured multiple runs by both teams. The Magic started things off by going up 7-0 two minutes in, then the Wizards responded with a 13-4 run before Elfrid Payton put together an 8-0 spurt by himself. The two teams traded baskets to finish out the quarter, and Washington was down by one after the first frame.
Scott Brooks opened up the second quarter with an all-bench lineup that was outscored by five in three minutes. He quickly pulled Nicholson for Morris, but the Wizards were down 10 by the time Gortat and Wall were subbed back in six minutes before intermission. The Wizards offense started to come together, but they had no answer for the Orlando bench in the first half and were down by 13 at the break.
The second half opened up with more of the same. Washington could not stop Orlando, and the Magic’s lead grew as big as 19 in the third quarter. The Wizards did cut the lead to 10 at one point, but ended up being down 15 heading into the fourth.
Washington finally showed some life late. They got the deficit into single-digits with just over six minutes left. Unfortunately, they ran out of gas and would never get closer than eight in the second half.
Here’s what we noticed in the loss:
John Wall had a career night
Despite the overall struggles the Wizards have had this year, Wall continues to play like the all-star that he is.
Wall had a career night going for 52 points on 18-31 shooting including 5-8 from three and 11-14 from the free throw line.
He was knocking down jumpers, getting to the free throw line, and even showed off a weapon that Wizards fans have been begging him to add to his arsenal in a floater:
John with the #WizMagic on @CSNMA pic.twitter.com/lJs111VW0X— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 7, 2016
Wall was an absolute beast all night and continues to show off an improved offensive skill set. It is honestly mind-boggling that he could go off for FIFTY-TWO POINTS and the Wizards could still lose to the Orlando Magic.
Orlando DEFINITELY won the battle of the benches
Offensively, the Wizards’ bench was not much worse than usual. Considering they are averaging 23.8 points per game this season (29th in the NBA), putting up 22 isn’t awful in comparison to the rest of the year.
The benches defense, or lack thereof, was a different story.
With 22 pts, Elfrid Payton (ORL) joins Kyrie Irving as only players to score 20 pts while shooting 100% from the field in a half this season pic.twitter.com/A5870l7m6W— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 7, 2016
Orlando’s reserves went off for 44 points… IN THE FIRST HALF. Their second unit went on to finish the game with 73 points. Elfrid Payton finished with 25 points and nine assists (his insane first half is shown above), Jeff Green had 20, Nikola Vucevic had a double-double and Jodie Meeks put up 18.
Now, to be fair, Orlando’s reserves did log significant minutes against the Wizards’ starters as well as their bench. But, regardless of whom it came against, giving up 45 points to Elfrid Payton and Jeff Green is unacceptable.
I know this isn’t exactly breaking news at this point, but Washington will not win many games if their second unit continues to play so poorly. A healthy Ian Mahinmi should help at least a little, but it seems clear that their bench, as currently constructed, will not come close to league average no matter how much coach Brooks tinkers with the rotation.
Washington’s defense was awful
Orlando came into this game averaging 93.2 points per contest. They surpassed that mark before the end of the third quarter. The Magic went on to score 124 points and were getting wide open looks all night.
Orlando shot 52 percent from the field, and, what is even more infuriating, is how efficient they were from the perimeter. The Magic are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA using basically any metric you want and they shot 12-26 from deep tonight.
While Coach Brooks said Washington would be a defensive-minded team on media day, they have yet to come together on that end of the floor and are in the bottom third of the NBA in opponent points per game.
Tweets of the night
Not quite a sellout...
It's a great crowd for #Wizards-#Magic! pic.twitter.com/sAG56q2jdQ— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) December 7, 2016
The arena did fill up a little more throughout the game, but the Wizards are still currently 25th in the NBA in attendance.
We also needed to give the Wizards’ MVP a shoutout:
You hate to waste this game from John Wall— Michael Sykes, II (@MikeDSykes) December 7, 2016
Hard not to feel bad for him after he went for 52 in a losing effort.