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Wizards vs. Magic recap: Washington’s comeback effort falls just short

Wizards 17-point comeback effort fell just short in their loss to Orlando

Following a four-game west coast road trip that saw the Wizards go 1-3, Washington returned home after the Christmas break to face the surging Orlando Magic.

Wes Unseld Jr. received some much-needed help off the bench with the return of guards Delon Wright and Johnny Davis. Wright had been out since November 10 with a left knee sprain, and Davis had missed action since early December with a calf injury.

Orlando got its fair share of help back as well, with guard Jalen Suggs returning from injury and starting Wednesday in D.C.

Washington fell to Orlando, 127-119.

The contest began differently compared to the previous couple games for Washington. Unseld’s squad had dominated the first quarter recently, but Orlando answered the bell Wednesday.

Kyle Kuzma threw a lob to Daniel Gafford to open the scoring, but Jalen Suggs came right back and hit two threes to give his team an early 6-2 lead.

Tyus Jones continued his stellar play as of late by hitting three of his first four attempts from beyond the arc. Jones has circulated in recent trade rumors due to his impressive play as the Wizards lead guard.

Unlike Jones, Wizards forward Deni Avdija struggled to find his shooting stroke early, missing a couple of open jumpers and getting blocked on a layup attempt. Despite those struggles, the 6’8” forward defended Paulo Banchero well, picking up two first quarter steals.

A couple of lazy turnovers by Kuzma gave way for Orlando to extend their lead, and rookie Anthony Black did just that. The 6th pick in last year’s draft, Black knocked down a pair of jumpers and a fastbreak dunk to extend Orlando’s lead to eight.

Delon Wright checked in late in the first quarter after missing over a month with a left knee sprain. The veteran guard out of Utah drained an and-1 layup on his first possession, then went to his bread and butter on the defensive end, stripping Banchero clean.

After trailing 26-18, the Wizards stormed back, closing the quarter on a 15-7 run to tie the game entering Q2.

Bilal Coulibaly showed off his athleticism to begin the second frame. The Wizards rookie skied over Franz Wagner for a two-handed offensive rebound and put it back in with a reverse layup — one of the more impressive plays from Coulibaly thus far.

A Goga Bitadze put-back slam capped off a sloppy few minutes for Washington, prompting coach Unseld to burn a timeout. Washington racked up eight turnovers through just 18 minutes of play, resulting in 12 Orlando points.

Corey Kispert kept the Wizards in this one, going a perfect 6-6 FG in the first half, including 3-3 3pt, to trim what was a nine-point Orlando lead to just three entering the break.

Jordan Poole got things started in the second half, burying his second three-pointer of the contest. To that point, Poole had just eight shots through the first 26 minutes of action, a low number that I’m sure the Wizards would like a higher volume of. However, even at that low output, Poole was quite efficient, knocking down 50% of his shots and playing under much more control than usual.

The sides exchanged runs, but it was Orlando who led entering the final frame, 98-88.

Jordan Poole came alive in the fourth, draining four threes in an effort to put the Wizards on his back, His counterpart, Kyle Kuzma, helped the effort by knocking down two deep ones of his own. The Wizards, who trailed by as many as 17 in the 4th quarter, cut the lead to just six with three minutes left to play.

Tyus Jones added a pair of buckets and Washington got as close as four before Franz Wagner put them away with a tough and-1 bucket to seal the deal.

Despite a respectable comeback effort, Washington fell to Orlando, 127-119

Jordan Poole was terrific all game, pouring in 30 points on an efficient 11-20 FG — his best performance as a Wizard.

Washington returns to action Thursday night as they face the Brooklyn Nets at Capital One Arena.