Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
With Dwight Howard sidelined with a back injury, the Orlando Magic were able to get by on Monday without him against the Detroit Pistons thanks in large part due to exceptional three-point shooting and, surprisingly enough, good defense.
But against the Washington Wizards, the Magic failed at both of those things and as a result, they lost a very winnable game.
For the game, Orlando shot 11-for-35 (31.4 percent) from three-point range and 36.6 from the floor. Conversely, the Magic allowed the Wizards to shoot 50 percent, with Kevin Seraphin leading the way for Washington with a career night — 24 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks. For Seraphin, his double-double represented a career-high in points and rebounds, while he tied a career-high with four blocks.
Glen Davis and Ryan Anderson could not stop Seraphin from doing whatever he wanted in the post. Seraphin showed beautiful touch with his back to the basket, sprinkling in righty and lefty hooks on either side of the block like he was, well, Dwight. Seraphin even showed off his range on one possession midway through the third quarter, making a left elbow jumper in a 2/5 pick-and-roll with Jordan Crawford.
While Seraphin was busy dominating for the Wizards, Orlando was preoccupied building a new mansion in Washington with bricks and mortars. In other words, the Magic — after shooting the lights out against the Pistons — struggled to hit perimeter shots all game long. And it wasn’t like Orlando was forcing up bad shots, though they did on occasion. The Magic had plenty of clean looks, especially behind the three-point line, they just couldn’t knock them down.
No shot typified that more than Jason Richardson’s three-point shot late in the fourth quarter. With Orlando down by the score of 86-81 with less than two minutes to go in the game, Richardson attempted a three-pointer on the left wing in transition that would have cut the deficit down to two points and one possession. Yet, even though Richardson had a clean look, he missed the shot and the Wizards eventually held on for the win.
Should the Magic have attacked the rim more to circumvent the lack of three-point shots falling? Perhaps. But it wasn’t like Orlando didn’t attack the basket. For the game, the Magic shot 12-for-23 (52.1 percent) at the rim. Those 23 attempts jive with the amount of shots Orlando attempts at the rim per game (23.1) this season.
No, the Magic’s issue is that they didn’t convert like they normally do. For the season, Orlando’s percentage at the rim is 63.2 percent.
Which brings it all back to Dwight.
This is not to discount Washington’s win. The Wizards came out and played better than the Magic. End of story.
But facts are facts. For Orlando, these are the types of games in which Dwight’s presence would have changed everything. It’s unlikely that Seraphin would have had a career night. It’s unlikely that the Magic would have struggled converting at the rim.
Nevertheless, credit Washington for taking advantage of the situation.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
What else is there to say about Seraphin that hasn’t been said? He took full advantage of Dwight’s absence and put on an offensive display that proves the Wizards were wise to trade away JaVale McGee.
It’s been already mentioned, but Orlando’s inability to hit three-point shots (aside from Jameer Nelson and Quentin Richardson) killed them against Washington, especially with no Dwight to lean on as a safety net.
That Was … Serendipitous?
Losing isn’t fun. But sometimes losing isn’t bad. Confused? With the loss, the Magic are still in line to face off against the Indiana Pacers in playoffs. Not the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks.