Wizards-Magic Preview

The Orlando Magic are the only NBA team this season to defeat
every other club in the league. Winning against the lowly
Washington Wizards, however, has been surprisingly difficult for
the Southeast Division champs.

One night after clinching their third straight division title,
the Magic continue their three-game homestand Wednesday when they
face a Wizards team trying to win three straight for the first time
in almost exactly two years.

Led by Vince Carter – who scored 26 points – and sparked by Matt
Barnes’ scuffle with Hasheem Thabeet, Orlando (54-23) defeated
Memphis 107-92 on Sunday.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of fight until everything went
down,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy of a third-quarter shoving
match that started when Barnes was called for an offensive foul on
the Grizzlies’ rookie center. “And then we got a little bit of
fight.”

With the victory, Orlando became the only club to defeat each
opponent in the NBA this season. If Dallas loses to Portland on
Friday, the Magic will remain the only team to accomplish that
feat. Orlando also clinched its third straight Southeast crown
Tuesday when second-place Atlanta lost 109-100 in Charlotte.

“Everybody thinks that they can beat everybody in this league,
and they’ll talk about it,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve literally done
it.”

Washington nearly prevented Van Gundy from making that
statement. After dropping the first two meetings with the Wizards,
Orlando needed to rally from a 15-point first-half deficit to post
a 109-95 victory in the nation’s capital March 13. On Wednesday,
Washington has a chance to win the season series with Orlando for
the first time since 1996-97.

Looking to salvage a split of the season series and win their
fifth straight overall at Amway Arena, the Magic will try to
prevent Washington (24-53) from its first consecutive road wins
since Nov. 27-Dec. 1.

With four players scoring 20 points or more for the first time
since December 2007, the Wizards capped off a 2-1 homestand Tuesday
with their second straight victory, 112-94 over Golden State.
Washington – 3-1 since a 16-game slide – now has a chance to win
three in a row for the first time since April 4-9, 2008.

“What’s that? We’ve won three out of four is it?” Andray
Blatche said after scoring 21 points. “It feels good to win three
out of four, I ain’t going to lie, man, to go out there and play
with energy, effort. We’re all playing with a meaning now.”

In Washington’s last visit to Orlando on Feb. 5, Caron Butler
hit a 19-foot jumper over Barnes with 0.5 seconds left for a 92-91
Wizards victory. Butler has since been traded to Dallas.

Orlando star Dwight Howard, who had 20 points and 18 rebounds in
the Feb. 5 matchup, is averaging 22.0 points, 16.7 boards and 2.3
blocks in the Magic’s last three home games versus the Wizards.