Six Orlando players scored in double figures tonight led by D.J. Augustin with 25 points off the bench as the Magic steamroll the Wizards, 122-101. Nicola Vucevic, who missed the last game between these two teams scored 20 points and Evan Fournier added 18 as the Magic improve to 3-0 against the Wizards this season.
Aside from Beal, no Wizards starter was much of a force as the other guys not named Bradley Beal combined to score just 17 points. Once again, the Washington reserves turned in another solid performance combining for 57 points led by Jordan McRae with 15.
This game was blown open in the third quarter as Orlando stretched the lead to 16, 90-74, and never looked back as they’d cruise to a 122-101 victory.
Bradley Beal returns to the starting lineup
Bradley Beal was a true game-time decision tonight as Scott Brooks said in his pre-game press conference that he was unsure if Beal would play.
Beal was his normal self in the first half as he was able to get to the hole with ease and knocked down two three-pointers en route to 20 first half points.
Early in the third quarter, Beal drove to the hole and took a spill and never really looked 100 percent after that fall. It was unclear if he tweaked his calf again as he was later seen on a stationary bike looking to stay loose.
Brad ended the night with 27 points to go along with five assists and four rebounds in his return to the floor after missing the last two games.
The second unit turns in another solid performance
Washington looked sluggish out of the gate in this one. The Wizards quickly found themselves in a 20-11 hole but got a spark off the bench once the reserves checked in. Fresh off of a career-high 28-point explosion, Garrison Mathews hit his first shot tonight followed by two free-throws the next time down for four quick points. Jordan McRae, also coming off a career game, scored five points in the first quarter as the Wizards closed the period on a 18-11 run of their own that was all sparked once the reserves checked in.
The Wizards took a brief lead midway through the second quarter, 39-38, all on the heels of 26 first half points from the reserves keeping Washington in this game.
With Washington trailing 90-74 in the third quarter, Scott Brooks turned to the reserves once again hoping to cut into the Orlando lead. Mathews nailed another three-pointer to stop the bleeding and Troy Brown Jr. hit a three-pointer as time expired in the third period to give Washington a punchers chance trailing by 11, 94-83 entering the fourth quarter.
TBJ at the BUZZER pic.twitter.com/0vxqaTklmS— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 2, 2020
The deficit would be too much to overcome as the Wizards were never able to trim the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter.
Some questionable rotations tonight, even in a blowout
Even with Orlando fully in control for most of the second half, there were some head-scratching lineups that Scott Brooks put out on the floor. No Washington starter aside from Beal played more than 19 minutes tonight as the starters were ineffective tonight. Isaiah Thomas was a feel good story to start the year, but we’re long past he point of him being a liability on the floor yet Brooks continues to start him over Ish Smith - or worse, play them at the same time.
Gary Payton II played just 9 minutes tonight scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds in his limited play. Payton’s reputation is that of a guy who’s scrappy on the defensive end so what not put him on #WizardsKiller Evan Fournier in the second half to see what he’s capable of?
After a couple of games where Troy Brown Jr. was in the flow of the offense, tonight he took a step backwards. Brown was mostly playing off of the ball when in the game and when the ball did end up in his hands, he often forced the issue resulting in a few bad shot attempts.
Up Next: Washington’s home stand continues on Friday night when the Portland Trailblazers come to D.C.