Even without one of their top players, the Washington Wizards have opened the season at a pace not seen from the franchise in decades.
The Wizards will try to secure their best start since 1974-75 by adding to their recent dominance over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
Washington hasn’t had Bradley Beal available this season because he’s recovering from the left wrist surgery that he had last month. Beal – who averaged 17.1 points in his second NBA season and shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range – could reportedly return to practice next week, but there’s no clear timetable for his return.
With Beal out, John Wall has averaged career highs of 20.0 points and 9.0 assists. The Wizards (6-2) are also allowing 96.9 points per game, improving on last season’s 99.4 when they won 44 games and made their first playoff appearance since 2008.
They didn’t have one of their better defensive efforts Wednesday against Detroit but ended the game on a 10-5 run in a 107-103 victory. Wall led the way with 27 points and 11 assists.
The Wizards star will try to help deliver another win while leading his team to its best start in 40 seasons. Washington began 11-2 in 1974-75 for its best 13-game start in franchise history.
The Wizards will try to move closer to that mark against an Orlando team they’ve beaten a series high-tying five consecutive times, including a 105-98 victory in Florida on Oct. 30. Washington has also won a series-best five straight home games, but Wall is not overlooking the Magic.
"I think they’re playing a lot better," he said. "They’ve found the chemistry and how they want to play. They’re a young team that plays with a lot of edge. It’s going to be a tough game. It’s not going to be an easy one."
Wall scored the final five points in last month’s victory en route to finishing with 30. He also had a season-high 12 assists, and Marcin Gortat contributed 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite the loss, Orlando (4-6) had one of its best shooting performances at 51.4 percent and had three players with at least 20 points, led by Nikola Vucevic’s 23.
The Magic seek a season-high third straight win and a third in a row at home after beating Milwaukee 101-85 on Friday. Tobias Harris had a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds in his team’s fourth win in six games following an 0-4 start, and Victor Oladipo scored 13 points in his season debut.
Oladipo suffered a facial fracture just before the start of this season. The No. 2 overall pick in 2013 averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists as a rookie.
"We’ve played some great basketball the last three games," Harris said. "We’re sharing the ball and building great chemistry. Vic gave us a great spark tonight."
Oladipo, a suburban Washington native, had 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting in his most recent visit to the Wizards on Feb. 25, matching his best performance in a road game.