Denton's Dish: Magic at Wizards (4/10/12)

By John Denton
April 10, 2012

Forced to play once again without their three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard, the fatigued Orlando Magic were mostly defenseless on Tuesday night.

Taking advantage of Howard being out of action because of spasms in his lower back, Washington pounded the ball inside to lightly regarded center Kevin Seraphin and guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford attacked the rim all night.

The result was a career night for Seraphin, 46 points in the paint for the Wizards and a 93-85 Washington defeat of the Magic.

The result snapped Orlando’s nine-game winning streak against the woeful Wizards. The Magic (34-24) had beaten Washington all three times this season previously.

Playing their fourth game in six nights, the Magic were a mess on both ends of the floor and saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end. They shot just 36.6 percent from the floor and made only 11 of 35 shots from beyond the 3-point stripe. And defensively, the Magic had no answer for the 6-foot-9, 275-pound Seraphin, who had career highs in points (24), rebounds (14) and blocked shots (four).

``We were late (defensively), and not very aggressive. A couple times we scored and, boom, they were right back at us and we ended up with nothing off the basket,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``I didn’t think our half-court defense was real good. We made the point of trying to keep everything out of the paint and they ended up with everything in the paint. It was just a really tough night.’’

Van Gundy said that Howard could have played had it been a playoff game, but the determination was made to rest the superstar center so that he could rest his back two more days and hopefully rid himself of the nagging spasms. Magic doctors and athletic trainers have determined there is no structural damage in Howard’s back and the hope is that with two more days of rest that the six-time all-star can return by Friday night.

A night after throttling Detroit for 119 points, made field goals were tough to come by for the Magic. Jameer Nelson had 19 points, but made just eight of 19 shots and seemed to get lulled into one-on-one battles with Wall (15 points, seven assists). Quentin Richardson scored 14 off the bench, while J.J. Redick scored 11 of his 15 points in the first quarter.

Ryan Anderson (seven points) missed eight of 10 shots and six of seven 3-pointers. Jason Richardson, who made six of seven 3-pointers on Monday, had just 10 points on Tuesday after going four of 16 from the floor and two of seven from 3-point range. And Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis had another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but missed eight of 13 shots.

``We had some guys who were tired tonight,’’ Jason Richardson admitted. ``Not taking anything from D.C. because they played well, but we didn’t have the same kind of energy we’ve had in those last two games.’’

The Magic will get Wednesday and Thursday off before hosting the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night at the Amway Center. The pivotal game could go a long way in deciding the seedings for the Eastern Conference playoffs. Six of the Magic’s eight remaining games are against playoff teams.

Orlando’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth remained three.

Here is a look at some of the key moments from the Washington’s Verizon Center on Tuesday night:


  • Redick and the other 3-point shooters helped the Magic get off to a stellar start in the first quarter. The Wizards repeatedly retreated to the lane on fastbreaks and the Magic made them pay with 3-pointers off the delayed break.

    By the time Nelson pulled up for a 3-pointer late in the first quarter, the Magic had five threes and were up 29-16. Redick was in attack mode from the start against Washington’s Jordan Crawford, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. Redick had two 3-pointers early on, the second one resulting in a four-point play when a frustrated Crawford fouled him on the deep shot from the wing.

    The problem, however, is that Redick didn’t score another field goal until the fourth quarter.

    ``Even at the start I said to (assistant coach) Brendan (Malone) that we didn’t have any energy from the beginning. We made some shots early and they missed some shots, but I never thought that we were playing with any energy,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We just looked absolutely dead tonight. I should have gone deeper into our bench. The two guys who brought us energy were Ish (Smith) and (Quentin Richardson), and Daniel (Orton) when he was out there.

    ``Some guys, like Glen, have played huge minutes lately and were worn out. Glen’s been our energy guy and he tried hard tonight, but he was moving slow,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``I don’t know if Ryan (Anderson’s) conditioning suffered in the time off (with an ankle injury), but he looked like he had nothing. It was just a rough night. I don’t think it was anybody with a lack of effort, but we just looked slow tonight. Guys wanted to do it, but (the Wizards) were just quicker than we were.’’

  • Anderson and Nelson continued a couple of impressive streaks Tuesday night. Anderson missed his first six shots in the first half, but hit a 3-pointer early in the third period. That extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one made 3-pointer to a NBA-best 34 straight games. Anderson leads the NBA in 3-pointers made and attempted.

    Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, a leading MVP candidate this season, is second with a 3-pointer in 29 straight games. Nelson is right behind him with a 3-pointer in each of the last 28 games.

    Anderson had a tremendous hustle play late in the third quarter when he dove onto the floor to poke the ball away from Cartier Martin. Redick ended up with the loose ball and shoveled it to Quentin Richardson for a breakaway dunk.

    ``Guys played a lot of minutes and on a back-to-back when you are playing a ton of minutes it’s tough, but that’s no excuse because we just didn’t play hard enough,’’ Anderson said. ``We won the last two with hustle and energy and (Tuesday) we didn’t have enough. Especially when we have some guys out it’s important to bring that extra toughness and being sharp on defensive rotations. It happens, but we have to get back to playing with a ton of energy.’’


  • Much the way they did Saturday night in Philadelphia, Orlando frittered away a strong start to the game with a poor second quarter performance. Orlando led by as much as 13 points early on and by 11 points at the end of the first quarter, but it was outscored 23-12 in the second period and the game was tied at 41-all at intermission.

    After shooting 44 percent in the first quarter, the Magic made just 19 percent of their shots in the second period. Things were so bad at one point that the Magic were one of 14 shooting in the period – and the one field goal was a banked-in 3-pointer from Quentin Richardson.

    ``I didn’t (mean to bank the shot), but a wise man one told me if it’s good, it’s good,’’ Richardson said. ``It’s on the board, so that’s three points.’’

    Richardson actually had nine of the Magic’s 12 points in the second quarter. The rest of the Magic had just two field goals in the second period.


  • Ish Smith, who was used in place of Chris Duhon as the back-up point guard, had the move of the first half. After making a hard drive to the hoop, Smith acted as if he was about to pull the ball out and re-start the offense. Washington forward Jan Vesely took the bait, turning his head and never seeing Smith reverse course and lay the ball in for an easy bucket. The play brought several Magic players up off the bench and had Nelson cheering his fellow point guard from the scorer’s table.

    Smith later had a stellar block of a Shelvin Mack dunk attempt. He finished with eight points and three assists in 16 minutes.

  • On the one hand, the Magic dominated the interior in the first half. They grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the first half, resulting in 12 second-chance points.

    However, on the other end of the floor, the Wizards gashed the Magic inside for 26 points in the paint. Clearly, that was a byproduct of Howard, the league’s three-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award, not being in the game to guard the rim for the Magic. The Magic came into the game ranked second in the NBA in fewest points in the paint allowed.

  • One of the most overlooked aspects of Davis’ skill set is his ability to defend in the paint. Not only is he a gritty one-on-one defender in the post, he also deters guards from driving into the paint with his ability to cut off gaps. In the third quarter, Davis drew his 17th charge of the season, the most on the Magic this season.

  • Jason Richardson said the Magic can’t use the fact that they were playing on back-to-back nights as an excuse for the first Magic loss to the Wizards in more than two years. After all, the Magic still have three back-to-backs remaining in the final eight games.

    ``It’s hard, but we all get paid really well to do our jobs and we have to perform,’’ Richardson said. ``It’s been a rough couple of games and a rough couple of weeks not having Dwight and with all of the back-to-backs, but we still have to show up every night.’’

  • John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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