The Washington Wizards are counting on a short memory to end what they’re hoping is a brief slump.
They can avoid a third straight defeat Friday night by ending their seven-game slide in Orlando and remaining perfect against the lowly Magic this season.
Washington (33-31) averaged 110.8 points and shot 49.7 percent while winning eight of nine before failing to score more than 90 and shooting 41.5 percent in losses to Miami and Charlotte earlier this week.
Though the Wizards are sixth in the Eastern Conference and in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008, they showed in Wednesday’s 98-85 home loss to Charlotte that the growing pains aren’t done.
John Wall had 23 points after totaling 16 during back-to-back seven turnover games, but was whistled for what he felt was a questionable foul on Kemba Walker’s 3-point attempt with 4:34 to play. After coach Randy Wittman drew a technical foul for his reaction to the call, Walker converted four free throws to put the Bobcats up by seven.
Still stewing, Wall missed his only two free throws of the night a half-minute later.
"I was really upset, I was mad," he said. "I tried to make them, but I was frustrated.
"This is the one where you don’t accept losing because we didn’t play defense and didn’t make shots."
Teammate Bradley Beal understands the Wizards can’t worry about the past, especially during a playoff race.
"It’s back to the drawing board, hopefully we can forget about this game," said Beal, who has scored at least 18 points in five straight games. "We’ve got to take each game seriously and approach it the right way and win the games were supposed to."
Friday’s game certainly qualifies as a game Washington is supposed to win, and it did just that in the first two meetings against Orlando while going 19 of 29 from 3-point range.
Both of those, however, came at home. The Wizards are 9-39 all-time at Orlando and have averaged 88.0 points while shooting 40.7 percent during their current skid there.
This version of the Magic (19-47) doesn’t appear equipped to come up with a similar defensive effort. Orlando has allowed an average of 111.8 points during its four-game losing streak.
Denver shot 51.1 percent in a 120-112 victory Wednesday at Orlando, where the Magic have dropped two straight since winning seven of eight. Arron Afflalo had 24 points and Nikola Vucevic added 20 with 16 boards, but Orlando was outscored 54-40 in the paint and outrebounded 52-38.
The Magic blew a 40-27 second-quarter lead two nights after giving up an 18-point advantage in a 105-98 loss at Milwaukee.
"In the past couple of games, we got up early and took our foot off the gas," rookie Victor Oladipo said. "We’ve got to learn how to play with a lead."
Oladipo scored 26 and Vucevic added 19 with 14 rebounds in a 115-106 loss at Washington on Feb. 25, a game Afflalo missed with a sprained ankle. Wall led the way with 27 as one of four Wizards – Trevor Ariza (22), Marcin Gortat (21) and Beal (21) – to top 20 points.
Wall had 35 points and nine rebounds last March in Washington’s most recent visit to Orlando, but Tobias Harris had a then career-high 30 to lead the Magic to a 97-92 win.