Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
There isn’t much the Orlando Magic have to play for after winning the Southeast Division title for a third consecutive season and locking up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference … aside from having the chance to catch the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings, of course, in hopes of earning home-court advantage if the two teams meet in the NBA Finals once again. So, it’s no surprise that the Magic mucked around here and there in tonight’s game. Against the Washington Wizards, Orlando got away with it and won by the score of 121-94. The Magic were led by a balanced attack, with seven players scoring in double-figures. Dwight Howard finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, while Mickael Pietrus and J.J. Redick each pitched in with 16 of Orlando’s season-high 65 points off the bench. Mike Miller, a former Magic player, had 16 points, nine rebounds, and five assists for the Wizards.
For roughly two and a half quarters, Orlando went through the motions against Washington and drove head coach Stan Van Gundy crazy (he threw his clipboard on the ground, at one point) as he had to call a timeout periodically after the team would have defensive lapses on consecutive possessions. For their standards, the Magic weren’t playing well during that span but it was good enough against the Wizards because of the talent disparity between the two teams. However, with the third quarter winding down, lightning struck for Orlando and a series of plays allowed them to blow the game wide open against Washington.
[2:34] Barnes makes free throw 1 of 2
[2:34] Barnes makes free throw 2 of 2
[2:04] Howard makes two point shot (Williams assist)
[1:21] Howard makes 7-foot hook shot
[0:37] Barnes makes 7-foot jump shot
[0:02] Williams makes 27-foot three-point jump shot
[0:00] Williams makes 25-foot three-point jump shot
What was a nine point lead for the Magic became a 19 point lead, just like that.
The back-to-back threes by Jason Williams in two seconds seemed to ignite not only the crowd at Amway Arena but the rest of the players for Orlando, specifically the reserves. As the fourth quarter came and went, the Magic put on a highlight show that would please any basketball enthusiast. Want threes? Want dunks? Want assists? You watched the right game. It was an impressive exhibition from Orlando’s bench, even if defense was being sacrificed in the process. Something Van Gundy bemoaned after the game and rightfully so, given that the Wizards entered the game 25th in Offensive Rating but shot 50% from the field against the Magic. Not good.
In any case, Orlando got the job done against an opponent headed to the NBA lottery, more so in methodical fashion than anything else when the starters were playing for the first three quarters or so. Washington elected to double-team Howard almost every time he was in the post but he did a great job, for the most part, of kicking the ball out to the perimeter, igniting good ball movement, and forcing the Wizards’ defense to scramble. Eventually, the Magic were able to break the bank on offense as previously mentioned.