In front of an electrified Amway Center, the Orlando Magic opened up their 27th season of play against their division rival Washington Wizards. After a high paced first quarter, the two teams began grinding, with the Wizards taking home the victory, 88-87.
After warming up the crowd with a special 3-D introduction video, the Magic and Wizards got down to business in the season opener for both sides. As both teams go through transitions of their own -- the Magic focusing on the defensive end, and the Wizards going to a more "pace and space" style on the offensive end -- things were expectedly slightly sluggish in the opening minutes. Washington turned the ball over on their first three possessions, while the Magic struggled to get flow going in their new free flowing offense.
As the quarter wore on, however, both teams began to find a needed comfort level, with the Wizards pushing the pace, and the Magic using their young athletes to bring a high energy level in the second part of the quarter. Second year forward Aaron Gordon electrified the slowly filling Amway Center with two monster put back dunks over Wizards, and a block on Washington big man Nene. Bradley Beal did much of the damage for the Wizards, scoring 12 in the opening quarter, with rookie Mario Hezonja leading the charge for the Magic with eight.
Following a strong first quarter that saw the team shoot 54.2 percent from the field, the Magic struggled in the second, shooting 37 percent in the quarter. While their offense was poor, their defense was better, despite continuing to get strung out by the Wizards crisp ball movement. Much like was their problem in the preseason, Orlando's defense was unable to defend without fouling, but were bailed out by Washington's poor shooting from the line -- they shot just 8-of-15 in the half, including 3-of-7 in the second quarter.
Out of halftime, both teams looked sluggish, playing uninspiring, poor basketball. Shots clanked harmlessly off the rim possessions after possession, with turnovers also beginning to creep their way into the game as an issue for both sides. In their slop fest of a quarter, the two sides combined for 11 turnovers, and a dreadful 11-of-40 shooting from the field, including 2-of-16 from beyond the arc. As the quarter wound down, the Magic were able to find enough to give them a small two point lead heading into the final quarter of action.
Behind continuous high energy plays, the Magic were able to push their lead up to eight just before the midway point of the quarter. Washington answered, however, going on a quick 12-0 run to retake the lead. After Elfrid Payton accidentally called timeout, the Magic came out firing, going on a 9-0 run to take a five point lead. Washington once again answered with a pair of baskets to cut the lead down to one with 33 second left. After a turnover by the Wizards, and a missed shot from Payton, John Wall hit a floater to give the Wizards an 88-87 lead. After a review on what appeared to be a blown goaltending call was not changed, Nikola Vucevic missed a jumper that would've given the Magic the victory.
Washington's Bradley Beal led all scorers, finishing with 24. John Wall had a quiet 22, with Kris Humphries adding 11. Former Magic big man Marcin Gortat rounded out the group, finishing the night with 10.
Six Magic players finished in double figures, led by Victor Oladipo's 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tobias Harris finished with 15, while Gordon scored 12 off the bench. In his first game, Hezonja finished the night with 11. Payton once agaib flirted with a triple-double, scoring 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Nikola Vucevic rounded out the group, finishing with 10.