The Magic set the early tone, starting the game on a 7-0 run as they established a physical presence on both ends. But after Orlando landed the first blow, Bradley Beal responded with two quick buckets as he quickly established himself as the player Orlando would have the most trouble guarding. He scored 9 of the team’s first 17 points on the way to a 32 point night, that was briefly interrupted by a sprained ankle late in the first quarter.
Washington ran into trouble in the second quarter when the reserves came into the game. D.J. Augustin and Mario Hezonja both hit a pair of threes as the Magic opened the quarter on a 14-4 run and took a double-digit lead. The Wizards would respond as Brandon Jennings assisted Bojan Bogdanovic on three baskets and set up Marcin Gortat on a pick-and-roll to make the game a little more manageable as the full starting unit re-entered the game. The starters proceeded to trim the lead down to 7 with 2:50 left in the half.
But just as it looked like the Wizards were going make it tight, the Magic went on an 11-2 run to close the half. Terrence Ross hit a pair of threes and Evan Fournier added one of his own as Orlando took a 61-45 lead into halftime, highlight by the Magic going 10-20 from deep.
After trading runs throughout the third quarter, Tomas Satoransky scored 5 quick points to spur a run to get the Wizards within 2 as starters re-entered the game. John Wall capped the Wizards’ comeback from 17 down with an and-one play to put Washington up 97-96 with 6:47 left.
Over the final minutes, Ross and Fournier traded big shots with Bogdanovic and Beal. The Wizards took the lead with 46.8 seconds left as Bogdanovic hit a three for the second-straight possession to put the Wizards up by one.
The Magic set up Aaron Gordon on a switch against Wall on the next possession, but Wall was able to block Gordon’s shot in the low post with 30 seconds left. Washington couldn’t shut the door, as they had to settle for a turnaround Wall fadeaway as the shot clock expired. The long rebound off the miss gave Orlando a chance to push the ball back down to the other end. But with the game on the line, Wall raced back on defense in time to get in front of Gordon and force him into a high arcing shot at the buzzer that missed.
The win, coupled with the Raptors’ loss on Saturday, means Washington now holds a one game lead for third place in the Eastern Conference standings as the Wizards prepare for a five game road trip.
Washington won without dominating in transition
Perhaps the most impressive part of Washington’s win is that they were able to do it without getting easy points in transition. They only had 6 fast break points in this one. In years past, if Washington couldn’t get well into double-digits that would ruin any chance of winning. But now, they have enough offensive firepower to win games without Wall creating several easy looks on fast breaks per game. That’s great news for the Wizards.
Another rough night for the frontcourt
The biggest reason for the Wizards’ struggles since the All-Star break has been the lackluster play of the team’s starting frontcourt, and that didn’t change in this one.
Marcin Gortat had more turnovers (3) than made field goals (1) and wasn’t on the floor as the Wizards made their big run to close the game.
Markieff Morris had more fouls (4) than made field goals (3) and didn’t grab a rebound until the final two minutes of the game.
Otto Porter continued to struggle from outside, going 1-4 from deep. He’s shooting 28.6 percent from deep since the break.
So many bad passes
The Wizards only had 12 turnovers on the night, which is below their season average, but they did not have a good passing night. Orlando clogged passing lanes all night, and while they didn’t get turnovers, they deflected plenty of passes that kept Washington from finding a rhythm until the fourth quarter.