The Magic get their first taste of an MLB-like schedule tonight.
They look to complete a two-game sweep of the Wizards in what is the second night of a back-to-back in the same arena as part of the NBA’s condensed, travel-reduced 2020 schedule. It will be the first time two NBA teams played a back-to-back in the same venue for both games since 1988 when Philadelphia played at Washington, the Magic announced per Sportradar.
The Magic defeated the Wizards on Saturday, 130-120, behind a masterful performance from Markelle Fultz, the hot shooting of Terrence Ross, and the fourth quarter surge of Nikola Vucevic.
With the win, the Magic opened the season 2-0 for the eighth time in franchise history, and the first since the 2012-2013 season. That team, the first in the post-Dwight Howard era, went on to win just 18 more games the rest of the season. But the fact that the current Magic started the season with a convincing victory over the defending Eastern Conference champions, and a road win over a team looking to leapfrog them in the standings and into the playoffs (when the Magic didn’t play their best), should not be diminished.
“We did what we had to do in the fourth quarter,” Steve Clifford told reporters after the game. “We played a good fourth quarter against a god team and that’s a quality win.”
In addition to Fultz becoming a closer and putting on another show in his hometown, Ross continued to lead the Magic’s strong bench play as he displays more ways to put the ball in the basket in addition to his typical catch-and-shoot opportunities. Vucevic, after struggling offensively through the Magic’s first game and the first three quarters of the second game, scored 13 points in the fourth, converting 5 of 7 field goal attempts in the quarter.
All of which combined to help the Magic, who shot over 50 percent from the field and had five players score in double figures, overcome their defensive shortcomings against Wizards.
Bradley Beal went off for 39 points on 14-for-24 shooting. Russell Westbrook had his second straight triple-double (15 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists), becoming the first player to open the season with two triple-doubles since Magic Johnson in 1982. But Westbrook shot just 6 of 19 from the field, bringing his two-game total to 15-for-41 (36.6%), including 0-for-6 from three.
Russ is shooting 15-41, 0-6 from three through two games.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 27, 2020
No excuses for Brodie. pic.twitter.com/HfleCnmlIz
Orlando will have to do a better job of contesting threes (13 makes for the Wizards on Saturday) and apply more pressure in their pick-and-roll coverage to better their chances of completing their D.C. two-game sweep.
The Magic, who last season won all four games against the Wizards, will look to improve to 3-0 for just the fourth time in franchise history, and first since the 2009-2010 season.
Who: Orlando Magic (2-0) at Washington Wizards (0-2)
When: Sunday at 7 p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena - Washington D.C.
TV: Fox Sports Florida