AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Even though Christmas is over, that hasn’t stopped the Orlando Magic from getting into the spirit of Christmas giving. On Wednesday, the New Orleans Hornets snapped their 11-game losing streak against the Magic.
Not to be outdone, Orlando helped the Washington Wizards — owners of the league’s worst record — snap their eight-game losing streak on Friday. And in the process, the Wizards ended the Magic’s NBA-best 12-game streak of holding opponents under 100 points.
The main reasons Orlando lost was because their defense faltered and they were unable to consistently generate offense.
Somehow, someway, Washington — despite having one of the worst offenses in league history — was able to score 105 points on 93 possessions on the Magic (one of the NBA’s top 10 defensive teams). The main culprit for Orlando’s defensive woes? The Magic were unable to contain dribble penetration and that allowed the Wizards to score in the paint seemingly at will.
It’d be one thing if John Wall was the one wreaking havoc at the rim. It’s another thing when Garrett Temple was the one doing the damage.
On the flipside, Orlando struggled to score, which has been a recurring theme all season long. Even though Washington is a truly awful team, their defense is above-average so they deserve some credit for limiting the Magic offensively.
That being said, this is where Glen Davis’ absence hurts Orlando. Even though Davis is a black hole on offense, his volume shooting has value in the sense that it generates scoring opportunities. Without Davis around to bail out the Magic offensively, players like J.J. Redick, Arron Afflalo, and Jameer Nelson have been forced to pick up the slack. The problem is that it hasn’t been enough.
Nelson got off to a fast start against the Wizards, making five of his first six field goals and scoring 14 points in the first quarter. Just like the Hornets game, Nelson was deadly in pick-and-rolls, pulling up for three-pointers primarily from the right wing and making Washington pay for going under the screens. Unfortunately for Nelson, he only scored two points the rest of the way.
Afflalo and Redick had relatively efficient outings on offense, but with Nelson going cold after the first quarter, points were hard to come by for Orlando. Head coach Jacque Vaughn used every available Magic player in the hopes of finding a spark, but nothing worked.
The Magic can only hope that Hedo Turkoglu’s return to action in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Raptors will serve as the spark they’re searching for offensively.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
You know you’re in for a long night when Jordan Crawford, a proud member of the “All-Chucker Team,” scores 27 points on 16 shots. Crawford and efficient normally don’t go in the same sentence, but they did on Friday.
That Was … Impressive
Orlando went on a 23-4 run in the first quarter against the Wizards and led by as many as 15 points in the period. Nobody would have blamed Washington for packing it in after a slow start, but they fought back and won.