Winners of two straight, the Orlando Magic welcomed their division foe Washington Wizards to the Amway Center for a Saturday night bout. Despite trailing for much of the night, the Magic caught fire in the fourth, rallying to beat the Wizards 88-86.
With perennial All-Star John Wall out for a scheduled day off, the Magic seemed to catch a break before things even got started. However, despite a quick start that saw them jump out to a 6-0 lead, things quickly deteriorated for the host Magic. With no flow to the offense, the Magic struggled to find good looks, with players aimlessly dribbling on many possessions. Those struggles translated over to the defensive end as well, with the team unable to string together stops, despite the absence of Wall, who has given the Magic issues since coming into the league.
Much like Thursday night against the Kings, the Magic were looking for a lift from their bench to start the second quarter. While they were able to do some things well, they weren’t able to build the sam momentum they did against Sacramento, despite Bismack Biyombo’s strong rim protection. After briefly taking the lead midway through the quarter, the Wizards finished on a strong 19-8, stifling the stagnant Magic on defense, and getting what they wanted on offense. Their inability to get anything going on either end, coupled with strong play from the Wizards, found the Magic down 10, 50-40, at the half.
Out of halftime, the Magic started shooting the lights out, making 4-of-5, including a set of three-pointers to open the quarter, quickly cutting the Wizard lead down to one. However, their momentum was quickly stifled, with the Wizards pushing the lead back out to double digits where it would hang for much of the quarter. Orlando’s offense once again became stagnant, struggling to get any flow or semblance of balance that it had in the opening few minutes of the quarter. They were able to find a little bit on the defensive end, holding the Wizards to just 20 points in the quarter, cutting into the lead very slightly, trailing 70-61 heading into the fourth.
Like the third, the Magic got things going early in the fourth quarter, opening on a 20-5 run to storm back and take their first lead since early in the first quarter. Behind Mario Hezonja and Jeff Green, the Magic’s offense found life with their reserves in the game. The duo, along with Evan Fournier, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin held the Wizards on the defensive end, while spacing the floor and running a fluid offense, finding quality looks on seemingly every possession.
As the quarter wore on, the Wizards slowly began settling in, going on a 9-2 run to briefly retake the lead. The Magic answered, quickly pushing the lead back to four after buckets from Green and Nikola Vucevic. Needing to find stops, the Magic defense tightened up, holding the Wizards to just four points in the final four minutes of the game. Nikola Vucevic failed to ice the game, missing a pair of free throws with less than a second to play, but Markieff Morris was unable to hit an open three that would’ve won the game.
Green led all scorers, finishing with 18 off the bench. Fournier, who battled foul trouble, ultimately fouling out late, finished with 13. Serge Ibaka added 11. Bismack Biyombo made his presence felt, finishing with nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Markieff Morris led the way for the Wizards, finishing with a game-high tying 18. Bradley Beal finished the night with 15, with Otto Porter adding 10.