The Washington Wizards came into Orlando Wednesday night winners of two in a row, scoring impressive wins at home over the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics in the last week.
However, it was a completely different story for the Wizards in their contest against the Magic, falling 123-89 in a game that was over early in the third quarter.
Washington was playing without Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Garrison Matthews, and Moritz Wagner (not to mention, John Wall).
Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 29 points and 9 rebounds in 28 minutes. Evan Fournier added 19 points (in 23 minutes) on 7 of 10 shooting.
Incredibly, Orlando and Washington are already finished playing one another for the season. The Magic swept the season series over the Wizards, scoring 120 points or more in all four contests (four of the six times Orlando has scored 120 points or more in a game this season have come against Washington).
The short-handed Wizards, who only dressed nine available players, began the game playing a zone-defense against the Magic. The strategy was effective to a certain extent. Orlando’s offense looked a bit choppy at the start of the contest, turning the ball over three times within the game’s first four minutes.
Orlando was able to eventually get things going, finding gaps in Washington’s leaky zone, cutting effectively to the basket, and scoring in the paint against their opponent’s hapless interior defense.
As the game’s opening period carried on, the Magic found more and more success against the Wizards’ zone defense. Orlando moved the ball from side to side, made the extra pass, and shot the ball efficiently from the floor (12-23 FGA’s, 4-7 3PTA’s) through the game’s first twelve minutes.
Actually, the Magic could’ve broken the game open even more if it weren’t for their uncharacteristic fouling early in the game (and Washington’s points off Orlando turnovers).
Washington began the second quarter on a 14-2 run and briefly took the lead over the Magic. Rookie forward Admiral Schofield gave the Wizards a huge lift off the bench, scoring 8 of his 18 points in the second quarter. Ish Smith was also a big difference-maker for Washington in the second quarter, scoring 7 points and dishing out 4 assists in the period (finished with 9 points).
Washington buried 10 of their first 12 shots in the second quarter before the Magic closed the half on a significant run of their own. Fournier and D.J. Augustin combined to score eleven points in a stretch to close out the first half that saw Orlando reclaim their lead over Washington.
Markelle Fultz dropped an absolutely gorgeous pocket-pass to Vucevic for an easy dunk off a pick-and-roll set in the half-court to send Orlando into the half with a 17-point lead (their largest lead to that point).
The Magic blew the game open by starting the third quarter on a 14-2 run. Vucevic was getting whatever he wanted in the paint, and Orlando was turning Washington over at rapid rate. Orlando’s All-Star center scored 16 points in the third quarter alone.
This guy has 16 points in the 3rd quarter and 29 points on the night! @NikolaVucevic— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) January 9, 2020
Watch the @OrlandoMagic on :FOXSportsFL :FOX Sports Go: https://t.co/lsZHQrzhSp#MagicAboveAll #NBA pic.twitter.com/AAnH1WN74y
Augustin found a ton of success getting to the free throw line in the contest, drawing three separate fouls on three-point field goal attempts alone (he finished 10 for 13 from the charity stripe). Orlando’s veteran point guard scored 18 points in the game.
Melvin Frazier Jr. drove the left baseline for a layup midway through the fourth quarter that put the Magic up by 30 points, which was more than enough to allow for the home team to coast down the stretch to an easy victory.
Orlando marched to the free throw line 24 times in the game, and they were able to force Washington into 23 turnovers - two key statistics in the game.
Troy Brown Jr. scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench for Washington.
Fultz played a well-balanced game, scoring 6 points to go along with 7 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals (+40 in 31 minutes).
Orlando will now embark on a six-game road-trip (12 days), beginning on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.