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.