Magic stay close until 3rd quarter, fall on road to Wizards
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Asked the key to his team's reserves providing 108 points over the past two games, both victories, Wizards coach Randy Wittman delivered a deadpan reply.
"Good coaching," Wittman said.
Then he paused to let the laugh line sink in, cracked an ever-so-slight smile, scratched his forehead, and continued.
"It's an ebb-and-flow thing. We, as a team, struggled a little bit. Last game got them going some," Wittman said. "That's what your bench has to do. You have to be ready."
Led by 15 points from Rasual Butler, and 10 from Drew Gooden, Washington's backups totaled 46 points Monday night, while starting point guard John Wall fell one point shy of a triple-double, and the Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 96-80 to sweep the season series.
Told about Wittman's one-liner, Butler gave the coach credit.
"He's telling us to go out there and be aggressive. And he wants us to be so aggressive that he needs to call a timeout and tell us to calm it down a little bit," Butler said. "When Coach has that type of confidence in you ... it's easier to go out there on both ends of the floor and let it all hang out."
Helps to have a guy like Wall leading the way for the first unit, too, of course.
Presented by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis with an NBA All-Star jersey before the opening tip, Wall hit a 3-pointer a little more than a minute into the third quarter -- the first shot made from beyond the arc by either team -- to open an 11-0 run that put Washington in control.
Wall wound up with nine points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds; he missed a floater with about 50 seconds left.
He knew he was close to double digits in three categories, acknowledging with a wide grin: "That's why I tried to shoot that floater."
The Wizards have won two in a row following a five-game losing streak. They went 4-0 against the Magic this season and have won the past eight matchups.
Orlando dropped to 1-2 under interim coach James Borrego. Overall, the Magic have lost 12 of their past 13 games, including their final 10 under Jacque Vaughn, who was fired as head coach last week.
"We should have been more prepared -- especially that first group -- to start the game," Borrego said. "We just weren't mentally or physically ready to start the game."
Wizards F Kris Humphries slammed to the court while going for a rebound in the first quarter and missed the rest of the game with a bruised lower back. Wittman said X-rays were negative; Humphries said after the game that he was "hurting."
Gooden played 23 minutes, his most since the season opener, and made a three-point play at the end of the third quarter that gave Washington its largest lead, 74-54. "I knew one day my name would be called and my number would be called, and I would have to produce," Gooden said.
There were 18 turnovers in the first half, 12 by the Wizards. The teams went 0 for 18 on 3s in the first half, with 11 misses by Orlando.
Evan Fournier, who led the Magic with 18 points, thinks his team's slow starts could be connected to not warming up before games the way he used to when he played in France. "The warmup in Europe, it's a team warmup. It's not like everybody shoots," Fournier said. "Be more focused about it and be more serious about it."
Magic: F Tobias Harris sat out with a bruised right knee; he got hurt Sunday night. ... G Luke Ridnour missed a second straight game for what the team called personal reasons.
Wizards: G Bradley Beal sat out a second consecutive game with a sore right big toe. ... Wall has three career triple-doubles, most recently on Jan. 22, 2014.
Magic: Host the Knicks on Wednesday.
Wizards: At the Raptors on Wednesday.