The Washington Wizards are still winless after a 120-113 loss to the Orlando Magic in back-to-back days.
With Russell Westbrook resting, Raul Neto — who finished the game with a career-high 22 points, four rebounds and five assists — was inserted into the starting lineup. The Wizards started strong, as rookie Deni Avdija (nine points, nine rebounds) splashed a three and found Thomas Bryant (16 points, seven rebounds and five assists) with a brilliant pass. With the Wizards up 16–4, Magic Coach Steve Clifford took a timeout.
With his first touch of the ball, Troy Brown, who had 12 points off the bench, knocked down back-to-back threes. For all the momentum the Wizards were building, Orlando guard Terrence Ross, who, along with Markelle Fultz, led the team with 26 points, picked up where he left off last night with a quick five points. A Robin Lopez circus shot, coupled with an Ish Smith pull-up jumper, saw Washington end the first quarter up 35–29.
While three-point marksman Dāvis Bertāns hit an early three in the second, his poor shooting continued — the “Latvian Laser” was a meager 1–4 from beyond the arc. A pair of turnovers courtesy of Jerome Robinson allowed Orlando to take the lead. With the Wizards playing clumsy basketball throughout the second quarter, Bradley Beal did everything he could to keep his team in the game, including giving Evan Fournier the run-around. Beal, who finished with a team- and game-high 29 points, also put up five rebounds and seven assists and was a main reason Washington only trailed by two at the half.
The Wizards opened the second half with blistering pace, as Neto demonstrated why Scott Brooks should look his way more often than he has in this fledgling season. Neto found Avdija and Beal on separate occasions with silky passes, hit a three and stole the ball off an inbounds play and drove to the rim for an easy two. With the Wizards in good shape — the team led 90–77 with 2:17 left on the game clock — Beal left the floor.
For the remainder of the quarter, the Wizards prevented Orlando from scoring; the team not only weathered the storm without Beal on the floor, they held a potent Magic offense to zero points.
A sloppy start to the fourth quarter foreshadowed the unbelievably horrendous loss the team was to endure. An eight-point Magic run to start the fourth forced Brooks to take a timeout and evaporated any momentum for the home team. Beal, Bryant and Neto did what they could, but swiss-cheese defense and missed shots cost the Wizards their precious — if not misleading — 17-point lead.
The Wizards will now head to a two-game series against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday and Thursday this week.