Magic Musings: Orlando goes cold down stretch in loss to Washington
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic’s newfound ability to close out games in the fourth quarter disappeared Friday night, as did their modest two-game winning streak.
The Washington Wizards, looking to avoid a possible first-round playoff matchup against either the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers, held the Magic to 16 points over the final 12 minutes and came away with a 96-86 victory.
Up by 14 points early in the second quarter and leading 70-67 through three quarters, the Magic went cold down the stretch in a reversal of form from what they showed in defeating the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their only field goal in the final six minutes was a 3-pointer from Arron Afflalo, who led all scorers with 19 points.
The Wizards outscored the Magic 20-4 in the paint during the fourth quarter and forced them into 13 turnovers following halftime.
"Their physicality started to catch up (to us)," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Give them credit for that."
The Magic were outrebounded 12-4 during a fourth quarter in which Kyle O’Quinn, who had been giving them a lift in that department of late, spent almost the first nine minutes on the bench.
While neither Bradley Beal nor John Wall shot the ball particularly well for the Wizards, Wall handed out 12 assists and committed just one turnover in 37 minutes.
"It’s tough to guard their pick-and-roll," said forward Tobias Harris, one of several Magic players who got into foul trouble. "John Wall is one of the best in the NBA at that, and that gave us a lot of problems."
"They did a good job of attacking the paint from that point and not settling for contested 3s," Afflalo said. "They missed some open ones in the first half."
Jameer Nelson flirted with the first triple-double of his career with 12 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds through three quarters. But he managed only one assist the rest of the way.
The Magic played without Nikola Vucevic for a fourth consecutive game (sore left Achilles tendon), although Vaughn said prior to tipoff that their center will travel with the team for its final two road games. Dewayne Dedmon made his third start in a row for Vucevic and grabbed 10 rebounds, all but one of which came in the first half.
The Wizards were coming off losses at home to Chicago and Charlotte which put them at risk of falling to the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
With the loss, the Magic were swept by the Wizards for the first time since Orlando’s first season in the NBA.
THE TURNING POINT
After two free throws by Harris cut their deficit to 83-82 with 4:38 remaining, the Magic saw the Wizards go on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes and change.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Rookie Otto Porter, whom the Wizards drafted right after the Magic took Victor Oladipo, had nine points and nine rebounds in a career-high 26 minutes. He tied onetime Magic member Al Harrington for the team lead in rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
After going 29 of 52 from 3-point range in three previous wins over the Magic this season, the Wizards made only two of their 19 attempts from that distance.
Sunday night at Brooklyn, 6 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida).