By John Denton
December 28, 2012
WASHINGTON D.C. – When the Orlando Magic last saw the Washington Wizards nine days earlier, they still had a healthy Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis and they were in possession of a season-best four-game winning streak.
But the Magic haven’t won since last seeing Washington and seeing Davis hit the floor with a dislocated shoulder. A losing streak that has now stretched to four games includes a frustrating 105-97 defeat on Friday night against Washington, owners of the NBA’s worst record.
Over the last three days, the Magic (12-17) have lost to a New Orleans team that had an 11-game losing streak and a Washington team that had dropped its last eight games. On this night, Orlando raced to an early 17-point lead, but had few answers offensively or defensively over the final three quarters against the Wizards (4-23).
``We are bad right now defensively and it’s surprising because we’ve been good defensively all season,’’ said Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick, who had 23 points. ``I don’t know what it is but I’m going to take a look at every defensive possession that we had. It’s frustrating to not be able to get stops.’’
The Magic made 10 of their first 13 shots (76.9 percent) and all five tries from beyond the 3-point arc in the early going, suggesting that they would make quick work of the Wizards. But that proved to be the only highlight of the night as the Magic struggled the rest of the way on both ends of the floor.
``I call that (fast start) fool’s gold and then we relaxed a little bit and let them have double-digit transition points (in the first half) and it got them back into the game pretty quickly,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``There was no way we were going to shoot that well throughout the course of the game, numbers-wide. But we relaxed.’’
Defensively, Orlando allowed a team to reach 100 points for the first time in 13 games, snapping what was the NBA’s longest such streak at 12 games. And offensively, the Magic shot just 45.3 percent with little production outside of Arron Afflalo (26 points) and Redick (five 3-pointers). Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson scored 14 of Orlando’s first 25 points, but he had just two points the rest of the game and finished with 16.
``That (shooting) doesn’t mean nothing; the game was the defense that we played,’’ Nelson fumed. ``It didn’t have anything to do with me shooting one-for-nine (in the second half) or four-for-four (from 3-point range) in the first quarter.’’
Down double digits following flat performances in the second and third quarters, Orlando clawed back to within 82-78 midway through the fourth quarter. But Washington pulled away the rest of the way, thanks in part to a second bizarre call involving power forward Josh McRoberts.
The Magic were whistled for a technical foul in the third quarter for having six players on the court when rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp put the ball into play as McRoberts was checking into the game. Vaughn held back on his comments so as to not offend the league office and draw a fine.
``It’s Christmastime and my wife spent a lot of money, so I’m going to refrain from what I really want to say about that (six men on the floor technical) foul,’’ Vaughn said. ``But I do know that there is a responsibility when guys check in to count the individual men on the floor and there should be 10 men on the floor. I sent two guys to the table to check in and one they did not let in and I’ll keep it that way.’’
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