Preview: Slumping Magic aim to hand Wizards another blow
TV: FOX Sports Florida
Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards own a winning record entering their first meeting of the season with the Orlando Magic. It just has not felt like a victorious campaign and their latest performance is a prime example.
The Wizards (17-15) continued their unwanted trend of succumbing to teams with losing records in Friday’s stunning 119-84 debacle at the Brooklyn Nets. Washington was outscored 66-41 in the second half, outrebounded 60-35 and trailed by as many as 40 points against a Nets team that entered with a four-game losing streak and eight games under .500.
“We got our butts kicked, we all did, myself included,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
The Wizards also lost at Brooklyn on Dec. 12. They are now 8-9 when facing teams with losing records, a scenario that has the projected Eastern Conference contender fighting to keep a winning record of their own.
“In order to win in this league, it doesn’t matter who you play, no matter what the record the team has, you still have to go out there and compete in order to win,” Brooks continued. “And we didn’t give ourselves a chance to do that tonight.”
Another struggling team is up next. Orlando (11-22) dropped its seventh consecutive game Friday with a 111-97 loss against New Orleans. Bolstered by the big man combo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, who combined for 46 points and 22 rebounds, the visiting Pelicans never trailed against the shorthanded Magic.
“It’s frustrating,” Magic center Nikola Vucevic said. “Tonight, our defense wasn’t there. Hopefully, we can get out of this soon. We just weren’t good enough. They scored on us a lot of different ways.”
Scoring was among the issues Friday for the Wizards, who were held under 100 points for the fourth time in six games. Leading scorer Bradley Beal finished with a season-low four points on 2-of-15 shooting against the Nets.
Washington had won three of four since John Wall returned after missing nine games with a knee injury. The four-time All-Star played less than eight minutes in the first half against Brooklyn with Washington facing a back-to-back for the first time since the point guard returned. Wall finished with 10 points and four assists in 16 minutes.
“Just be focused every game and just play with some sense of urgency and I think we’ll be fine,” Wall said about Washington possibly contending in the East. “We have an opportunity to get on a winning streak but we just gotta play with a better sense of urgency.”
Jonathon Simmons led the Magic with 22 points and Vucevic had 21 points, but Orlando lost the battle of the boards 48-40. New Orleans also shot 50 percent from the field.
“They just outplayed us,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ve got to play the whole game better.”
The Magic played without key performers Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Evan Fournier and Terrance Ross. All four players are unlikely to face the Wizards. Fournier (sprained right ankle) and Gordon (strained right calf) lead Orlando in scoring with 18.3 points per game.
Otto Porter had six points in his return to the Wizards starting lineup after missing two games with a hip injury suffered Dec. 15 against the Los Angeles Clippers. With Porter back, Washington had its starting lineup intact for only the second time since Thanksgiving.
The two Southeast division squads split the four-game series last season with both teams winning once on the road.