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Wizards come up short against surging Magic

Washington played Orlando tight, but the Magic exercised their superior late-game execution.

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Washington Wizards fell to the Orlando Magic Friday night, 130-125, to fall to 3-16. It was the second of two back-to-back Wizards losses in Orlando’s Amway Center after the Magic won 139-120 on Wednesday.

Washington played Orlando tight until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. A 61-58 halftime lead for the Wizards was an impressive start, but they could not capitalize on the Magic’s 14 turnovers and 23 fouls. The Wizards had an incredibly efficient game from the field — 50.6% overall and 46.4% from deep — but they left nine points at the free throw line. Kyle Kuzma finished with 27 points, and Daniel Gafford added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Bilal Coulibaly also notched 12 points and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench.

Jordan Poole continued his early-season struggles against an Orlando defensive unit ranked third in the NBA. He shot a meager 3-for-12 from the field and needed to hit eight of nine free throws to get to 14 points on the night. Deni Avdija also had an off night, playing just 20 minutes and scoring 6 points.

The Magic continued their thunderous start to the season and advanced to 14-5; they will be tied with the Boston Celtics for first place in the Eastern Conference if the Celtics lose tonight. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner — two likely All-Stars — each finished a few statistics shy of 30-point triple doubles. Additionally, Jalen Suggs continued his incredible start to the season, hitting five of nine shots for 15 points while keeping up his All-Defense worthy clamps.

The Wizards will now fly home to enjoy a five day break before hosting the Sixers on Wednesday night. Philadelphia is a formidable unit centered around reigning league MVP Joel Embiid and breakout guard Tyrese Maxey, so pick-and-roll defense should be a heavy focus in practice this weekend.