After falling in their season opener to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Orlando Magic returned home on Thursday to host the Washington Wizards in their home opener. Washington sealed the game late, winning 105-98.
Much like Tuesday night, the Magic struggled protecting the ball, turning the ball over eight times, leading to eight Wizard points. After missing the entire preseason with a sprained MCL, Channing Frye returned to the lineup, knocking down his only jumper in the open quarter. Frye's impact was clear early, as the team's spacing was much better, allowing Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier to get easy driving lanes to the basket.
In the second quarter, the Magic took better care of the ball, turning it over just three times. After struggling with the Pelicans on the boards on Tuesday, the Magic did a much more sound job in the opening half, giving up just three offensive rebounds, compared to 17 at half on Tuesday night. Evan Fournier found his stroke from deep, knocking down two three-pointers en route to a game high 14 at the half. Nene, who was suspended for Washington's game in Miami last night, led the Wizards with 11 in the opening half.
Out of halftime, the Magic's third quarter collapse happened. Washington forced the Magic into six turnovers, turning them into eight points in the quarter. The Wizards also shot a sizzling 12-21 from the field. Washington grew their lead to as many as 17, thanks to 26 points from John Wall, Paul Pierce and Marcin Gortat combined.
With Washington up 16, the Magic looked seemed to be all but out of it. However, Fournier, Ben Gordon and Nikola Vucevic had other ideas. The three combined for 27 of the Magic's 32 points in the quarter, willing the team back into it. However, despite cutting the lead to two with under two minutes to play, the Magic were unable to finish the comeback, falling to 0-2 on the season.
John Wall led all scorers on the night, finishing with 30 points and 12 assists. Gortat notched a double-double of his own, finishing with 20 points and 12 rebounds on the night. Paul Pierce scored 16, while both Nene and Garrett Temple finished with 12.
The Magic were carried all night by Vucevic, Ben Gordon and Fournier, who combined for 66 points on the night. Vucevic notched his second straight double-double, leading the Magic with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Gordon, who had a rough debut on Tuesday night, bounced back with a strong 22 points off the bench. Fournier, starting in place of the injured Victor Oladipo, scored 21. Tobias Harris rounded out Magic men in double figures, finishing with 14 on the night.