AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari
This game should have been over in the first quarter.
The Orlando Magic jumped out to a 27-11 lead in the period due to a number of factors.
First, the Magic were humming offensively. Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson, and Dwight Howard were all getting it done on offense, drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line, making three-pointers, and scoring in the paint.
Second, the Washington Wizards struggled to score. Part of it was the Wizards’ inability to convert near or at the basket, with Howard serving as a deterrent. Part of it was Washington’s love for long twos. Wall was the main culprit, as he continued to settle for jumpshots and continued to miss them.
Orlando did try to go for the killshot late in the first quarter with a 16-point lead but were unable to deliver the finishing blow. Richardson missed a wide open three-point shot on the left wing, then on the ensuing possession muffed a reserve dunk on a backdoor cut. Had Richardson been able to score on both possessions, Orlando would have had a 21-point lead. That wouldn’t have been an insurmountable deficit for the Wizards to overcome but it would have made their comeback attempt a lot more difficult.
Instead, the Magic maintained a 16-point lead. Washington hung around, cut into the deficit in the waning moments of the period, and were in a dogfight with Orlando until the very end of the game.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Anderson had 23 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. His 10 defensive rebounds were a season-high. But most importantly, he came through in the fourth quarter for the Magic by making winning plays.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Chris Duhon was just dreadful. He routinely sabotaged possessions for Orlando by turning the ball over. None better than when he lost the basketball in the backcourt on one possession.
With the Magic clinging to a five-point lead lead, Anderson drew a foul on Wall as he went up for a three-pointer in the left corner at the 2:49 mark. Anderson made all three free-throws.