magic 97 wizards 92
3/27/2013 - Amway Center, Orlando, FL
NBA.com Game Highlights
John Wall’s stat line pretty much told the tale of last night’s loss to Orlando. Whenever he scores as many as 35 points, on 28 shots, with only two assists, it’s pretty clear the Wizards had a terrible night shooting the ball, with no other scoring option available besides Wall.
Martell Webster was the lone other Wizard who managed to finish in double-figure scoring, but it was Washington’s first half defense that sealed this one for the Magic.
Nearly half of the Magic’s point total was surrendered in the paint, as the Wizards had nothing to show for defensively. Two factors heavily played into this: They were terribly slow getting back in transition; and at times the help defense was really unnecessary, helping nothing but freeing up scorers under the rim for Orlando.
The Wizards kept up with the Magic up until around the halfway point of the first half, when things started to fall apart. A couple miscues on offense and the mentioned bad defense lead the Magic on an 18-6 run in about 4 minutes to go ahead by 12, a lead they took going into halftime.
But of course, Randy Wittman, the man with superior prowess in halftime adjustments, got his boys back in the mix very quickly into the 3rd quarter. An 11-2 run got the Wizards back within 1, before they ultimately took the lead a few moments later off two Garrett Temple free throws.
The Wizards failed to score for the remaining 3:20 of the 3rd and trailed by seven going into the 4th, where they would climb back and manage to tie the game again off an Ariza 3.
The Wizards failed to convert a basket in the final 4:13 of the game, with all 10 of their final points coming from the free throw line. They remained within as little as 2 points in the final seconds, but Orlando converted on all but one of their foul shots, sealing the win.
With only one other player besides him scoring in double figures, John Wall earns the MVP label yet again. Despite the return of a few injured players, the Wizards offense continued to struggle to find scorers, forcing Wall to chuck up 28 shots for 35 points. Wall’s jumper continued to be efficient for much of the first half as he knocked down a number of elbow jumpers and also knocked down his 10th 3-point shot of the season. And as usual, there’s no hiding in Wall’s determined attack at the rim, as he got himself to the line 15 times.
Emeka Okafor: Okafor was strong down low tonight, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with his nine points. Matching up against a small Orlando front line, Okafor found himself in good position to attack the glass for most of the night. I probably would have liked him to attempt more than just 5 shots, or at least more than Kevin Seraphin did. Seraphin was able to convert a few of his hook shots, and I imagine Okafor could have done the same.
Tobias Harris: Well, the Magic were certainly grateful for Tobias last night. Much similar to the Wizards’ injury woes, the Magic have also recently had their active roster trimmed to single digits. Harris finished with a game-high 30 points and 11 rebounds, taking advantage of Washington’s poor interior defense.
Nothing more good than the return of a few inactive players. The Wizards have been plagued with illness and injury during this final stretch, so the presence of Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza, and AJ Price was pretty refreshing. Martell, the biggest scoring threat of the three, finished with 19 points. Although he shot a bit more poorly than usual (7-18 FG; 1-7 3-pt), his performance was acceptable considering his rust. Price wasn’t spectacular, but he spelled John Wall fairly well for the minimal time he was needed.
Going back to that atrocious defense in the first half. It just seems like every game there’s a certain facet that drives Washington to the ground. I mean, for a team that’s been touted for their (elite) defense all season long, to give up THAT many points in the paint is just unacceptable. As no-named as the Magic are, they were smart enough to exploit Washington’s lazy reaction on D, which allowed numerous wide-open dunks and easy conversions on the fast break. The Wizards were able to make some adjustments which lead to only six points in the paint in the 3rd, but again, their initial shortcoming had already done its damage.