The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Washington Wizards by the score of 109-103, snapping a four-game losing streak. The Magic have been losing a lot lately, dropping six of their last eight games, so a win — even if it was against one of the worst teams in the NBA — was a welcome sight for them. Orlando was led by a balanced attack, as four players scored in double-figures. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic, finishing with 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field (including 11-of-16 from the free-throw line), 18 rebounds, three assists, and four steals. Ryan Anderson finished with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field (including 6-of-9 from three-point range) and seven rebounds. J.J. Redick chipped in with 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field (including 3-of-4 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line). Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Nick Young led the way for the Wizards with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field in roughly 21 minutes of playing time. Rashard Lewis had 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field (including 3-of-4 from three-point range), eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals, playing one of his better games since leaving Orlando. Three other players for Washington scored in double-figures.
Aside from the second quarter, the Magic had a lead against the Wizards for most of the night. In that second quarter, Washington briefly took the lead against Orlando thanks in large part due to a furious scoring run that was triggered by their second unit. From the 1:00 mark in the first quarter to the 7:01 mark in the second quarter, the Wizards went on a 22-5 run.
With a 5-man unit of Shelvin Mack, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker, and Kevin Seraphin, they completely outplayed the Magic’s second unit for a brief stretch in the game. While Orlando was chucking up shots from the perimeter, Washington was aggressive in attacking the rim while sprinkling in some jumpshots here and there. The Wizards’ energy was utterly insane at times, as they were pressing on defense, outhustling the Magic, and getting a number of offensive rebounds. Washington was making all the effort plays and Orlando was not. That allowed the Wizards to take control of the game in the second quarter. However, as the period went on, the Magic were able to restore law and order on the court, going on a 15-2 run sparked mostly from three-point shooting. From then on, aside from a brief malaise in the third quarter, Orlando was in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.
It should be mentioned, however, that another of the main reasons that the Magic were able to go on a 15-2 run in the second quarter was because they switched to a zone defensively. Yes, after Washington made their big push, Orlando was forced to use a zone to slow them down. The strategy worked, as the Wizards didn’t attack the zone properly and settled for jumpshots. But for head coach Stan Van Gundy to call for a zone against Washington is a little embarrassing.
In any case, the Magic were able to shut the door on the game in the fourth quarter because Turkoglu went into “Mr. Fourth Quarter” mode, scoring nine points in the period.
After Chris Duhon got hit in the eye inadvertently by John Wall dribbling the ball up the court, Van Gundy was forced to hand over all the point guard responsibilities to Turkoglu for the remainder of the game.
Which also meant Van Gundy used a rarely-used crunch-time lineup of Redick, Von Wafer, Turkoglu, Anderson, and Howard. The lineup worked, as Orlando ran a number of 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Turkoglu and Howard in crunch-time, with Redick, Wafer, and Anderson spreading the floor, to seal the win.
Nevertheless, even though the Magic won the game, it’s a little alarming that it took good-to-great performances from Howard, Anderson, Redick, and Turkoglu to get the job done while simultaneously benefitting from Wall shooting 1-of-12 from the field. Granted, part of the reason is because nearly every player, aside from Wall, for the Wizards played abnormally well. But it doesn’t change the fact that Orlando had to rely primarily on four guys. It doesn’t even matter that Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson are out with injuries because, to be frank, this has been how the Magic have been winning all season.
A lot of Howard, Anderson, Redick, and Turkoglu with little else.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.