Looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss on Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic welcomed the struggling Washington Wizards to the Amway Center. Despite blowing a 25 point lead, the Magic made just enough plays late to hold off the Wizards, 117-108.
For the second time in their last four home games, the Magic were sluggish, and playing without purpose early on. Their defense lacked energy, and they appeared a rotation short on every assignment, while the offense struggled to find the basket, taking forced shots and failing to execute any set.
After an early timeout from Steve Clifford, the tides quickly turned for the Magic, who picked up the pace on both ends, forcing Washington into seven first quarter turnovers, leading to 12 points. When they weren’t getting clean looks off turnovers, the offense had flow, even with the second unit, who struggled mightily on Wednesday night, on the court.
After falling down 13-2 early, the Magic used a 30-12 run to take a 32-25 lead into the second quarter.
With their reserves still in, the Magic began to quickly see their lead grow. After scoring just 20 points in Wednesday night’s contest, Orlando’s bench scored 25 points in the first half, led by nine from Mo Bamba, who showed off a silky smooth jumper in his seven first half minutes.
As the half wore on, the Magic continued to take advantage of the Wizards struggles, turning 14 Wizard turnovers into 22 points, including a late three-pointer by Aaron Gordon to give the Magic a 15 point lead, 63-48, at the half. Despite allowing the Wizards to shoot 50 percent in the half, the Magic defense was overall better as the half wore on after a sluggish start.
Out of halftime, the Magic’s overall domination of the Wizards continued. Washington continued to look like a sloppy, dysfunctional team, turning the ball over, missing shots and being unable to stop anything the Magic threw at them. Orlando extended their lead to as many as 25 before Washington cut it back down to 15, 89-74, heading into the fourth.
As their lead continued to slip, things seemed to be going south, and quickly, for the Magic. Washington began picking apart the Magic defense, as shots began to miss left and right for the Magic. Washington cut the lead down to as few as 10, but the Magic seemed to find a way to answer and slow the bleeding.
A pair of free throws from Kelly Oubre cut the lead down to eight with just under five minutes to play, forcing Clifford to go back to his starters. A fired up John Wall, after an exchange with a fan who was talking trash in the stands, cut the lead down to six with four minutes to play after a couple of misses from the Magic.
Baskets from Bradley Beal, Oubre and Wall cut the Magic lead down to one, before D.J. Augustin hit a big three-pointer to put the Magic back up four. After a stop, Augustin hit Terrence Ross for a long alley oop to put the Magic back up six with two minutes to play.
A timely three from Evan Fournier put the Magic up nine, all but sealing the victory for the home team.
Orlando had seven guys finish in double figures, led by Nikola Vucevic’s 21. Bamba, who gave the team a spark off the bench, finished with a season, and career-high 15.