When: Sunday, Dec. 27 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Arena
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington
How to listen: 1500 AM, Wizards mobile app, SiriusXM radio
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (Eye, Out)
Magic: James Ennis III (Calf, Day-to-day), Al-Farouq Aminu (Knee,Out), Jonathan Isaac (Knee, Out), Mo Bamba (COVID-19, Out)
After losing to the Magic in their first home game of the season Saturday, the Wizards have a chance to try again Sunday. Coach Scott Brooks felt like the team was “a step slow” throughout Saturday’s contest.
Bradley Beal led with another 30-plus point performance, scoring 39 points.
“We have to show more resistance in all areas of the game,” Beal said on a post-game zoom call. He admitted that the team needs to “lock-in” during the last five to six minutes of games. The Wizards have shown trouble closing out games and if they can’t fix that issue, it’s going to be a long season on Beal and Westbrook having incredible offensive performances that are great personally but don’t really hold a ton of weight if the team isn’t winning games.
The Wizards were 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) from the free-throw line. When asked about free throws and how they could have been a difference-maker in this game Beal said, “we all got to make them, including myself.”
It’s unclear whether Davis Bertans will play more minutes. In the last two games, he’s averaged 20 minutes on the floor but it’s clear the Wizards need him, even more, to be successful. Beal believes that if Davis Bertans plays more minutes, Saturday’s game would have been different.
Will Russell Westbrook have his third consecutive triple-double evening Sunday? The point guard had his second back-to-back triple-double with 15 points, 12 assists, and 15 rebounds. It’s an impressive stat line but it’s important to note that Westbrook shot 6-of-19 from the field.
According to ESPN Stats & Info’s Twitter account, Westbrook is the first player since Magic Johnson in 1982 with consecutive triple-doubles to open a season. Westbrook, who wasn’t satisfied with his overall performance, was asked about his availability for Sunday’s game but didn’t offer any information and referred the media to the coaching staff.
In an interesting move, Coach Brooks decided to bench Raul Neto, who had 11 first-half points. He was perfect from the field, shooting 4-of-4. He was perfect from downtown, hitting all three of his shots. It will be interesting to see what his playing time and performance look like in this upcoming game.
Terrence Ross had another impressive night coming off the bench with a team-high 25 points. This was no surprise for the Wizards as he did this in the Magic’s first game of the season. The Magic had four starters score in double-figures last game again.
Nikola Vucevic had another double-double with 22 points and 17 rebounds and Markelle Fultz followed with 21 points. Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier added 15 and 13 points respectively. The Wizards now know what exactly to expect from Orlando. They just need to really make their free throws and apply pressure in the closing minutes of the game.