Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards game preview
WASHINGTON — The Orlando Magic have conjured up a winning formula on the road, which is where they remain Tuesday night for their third meeting this season against the Washington Wizards.
The Magic (9-12) are 3-1 on their current five-game road trip, including Sunday’s 98-92 victory at the Detroit Pistons. Before this surge, Orlando dropped four in a row. One of those losses doubled as Washington’s first road win of the season. The second came Monday night as the Wizards (7-12) rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit for a 118-113 win at the Brooklyn Nets.
Washington and Orlando each own a win in the series with the victories coming on the road. The Wizards took the previous meeting 94-91 on Nov. 25 as John Wall had 26 points and 10 assists in Orlando.
Serge Ibaka, acquired by Orlando in a blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, stuffed the stat sheet against the Pistons with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals.
"There’s no question he’s an elite big man. He’s one of the best two-way bigs in the game," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "There’s no other way to put it. He’s shooting the ball from the perimeter, he’s scoring in the post and he’s really trusting the pass. He’s buying into the hot-potato type of mindset, where the open man gets the shot every time. And he’s a force on the defensive end."
The big man sank 2 of 4 from deep against the Pistons and is shooting over 40 percent on his 3-point attempts this season.
"I’m getting better every day," Ibaka said after the latest win. "I’m working and working, and also my teammates trust me, as do the coaches, and that’s one of the keys, too. They try to give me the ball early in the game, like tonight, and that’s something that really gives me that confidence to play my game."
The Magic ended a seven-game losing streak in Detroit after earlier this season snapping a 12-game skid against the Wizards. Orlando won 88-86 win on Nov. 5 in Washington behind 18 points from Jeff Green.
Wall’s fourth-quarter flurry against Brooklyn ensured the Wizards would return home with at least one win after back-to-back heartbreaking road losses against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. The point guard scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.
"Just played harder, more aggressive," Wall said about Washington’s second-half turnaround. "Competed like we did the last couple of games and we started to do that in the second half."
Bradley Beal had 18 points, including a 3-pointer that gave Washington 107-106 lead with 3:27 remaining. Wall scored the next five points for the Wizards, who outscored the Nets 32-15 in the third quarter.
"We want to be a two-way team. It’s definitely a good 12 minutes, probably one of our best 12 minutes of the year," coach Scott Brooks said. "But we can’t play 12 minutes of solid defensive basketball. It comes down to being solid throughout the game."