Postgame Report: Magic vs. Wizards (4/11/14)

Victor Oladipo

By John Denton
April 11, 2014

ORLANDO – A model of efficiency in the first half of Friday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Orlando Magic got away from what got them a big early lead and their sloppy second half yielded a frustrating loss at the Amway Center.

Up as much as 14 points in the early going, Orlando came unglued in a turnover-filled, 35-point second half and lost 96-86 to Washington to see its modest two-game winning streak come to an end on Friday night.

``In the first half we were moving the ball a lot and making the right plays and then we got away from that,’’ said forward Tobias Harris, who scored 10 points in 24 minutes off the bench. ``We kind of got stagnant on the offensive end and defensively we weren’t getting enough stops. That effects the whole game’s tempo and flow.’’

Orlando (23-56) got within one point of the lead with 6:44 to play, but Washington (41-38) ripped off a 13-4 run to end a two-game losing streak of its own. The Wizards, who are in the playoffs for the first time in six years, needed the victory to keep alive their hopes of earning the East’s sixth seed.

The Magic turned the ball over just five times in the first half, but kicked the ball away 13 times in the second half. Orlando started the second half with six turnovers in its first 11 possessions.

``I think their physicality ended up catching up to us,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We had 31 personal fouls and that was a big part of it. We moved the ball extremely well in the first half with 16 assists. But overall their physicality started to catch up. Give them credit for that.’’

It was the first time since the Magic’s inaugural season of 1989-90 that they have been swept in a season series by the Bullets/Wizards. Orlando dropped games by 18 and 11 points in Washington, D.C., and it fell 105-101 in overtime at the Amway Center on March 14.

The loss snapped Orlando’s two-game winning streak and kept its from getting to .500 at the Amway Center for the season. Determined to be improved at home this season after winning just 12 games at the Amway Center last season, the Magic are still 19-21 in Orlando.

Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson narrowly missed the first triple-double of his 10-year NBA career. He finished with 12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in 34 minutes.

Arron Afflalo had his third straight solid game with 19 points, while center Kyle O’Quinn chipped in 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Nene scored 17 points off the bench for the Wizards, while guard Bradley Beal pumped in 16 points. Orlando slowed down star point guard John Wall (10 points and 12 assists), but they couldn’t get beyond their turnover troubles.

The Magic leave on Saturday for the final road trip of the season. Orlando plays in Brooklyn on Sunday night and in Chicago on Monday night. The Magic whipped the Nets in Orlando on Wednesday night and they won in Chicago in December for one of their four road victories.

Orlando closes the regular season on Wednesday at the Amway Center against the Indiana Pacers.

The Magic led by two points early in the fourth quarter and got within one at 79-78 on a 3-pointer by Doron Lamb (11 points and three 3-pointers). But when the game mattered most, Washington slowly pulled away as the Magic had several sloppy possessions. Orlando let its six-point halftime lead slip away with some sloppy basketball in the third quarter. The Magic opened the second half with turnovers on six of their first 11 possessions. Following a first half in which Orlando had 16 assists and just five turnovers, it handed out just two assists compared to eight turnovers in the third period.

``They did a great job of playing D and rotating over and taking charges and we’ve got to learn from it,’’ said Magic rookie Victor Oladipo, who had just six points because of five fouls and two charges. ``It’s a little bit (frustrating), but (over-penetrating) is something that I need to work on because people are going to be waiting on me. I have to do a better job of trying to avoid them.’’ Nelson notched two-thirds of his triple-double in the third quarter. His 10th assist of the night resulted in an O’Quinn dunk and two baskets in a row gave him 12 points late in the third quarter.

The Magic led 51-45 at intermission, but it could have been much larger had they been able to hold onto a big lead early in the first half. Orlando also allowed Wall to go from end to end in the final five seconds of the half and convert a layup just before the buzzer.

Orlando led by as much as 14 points early in the game as Washington missed 13 of its first 15 shots. The Magic moved the ball especially well early on, handing out 16 assists on their first 22 baskets.

Nelson did a little bit of everything in the first half, contributing nine assists, six rebounds and five points. His no-look pass to O’Quinn late in the half resulted in a dunk that delighted the Amway Center crowd.

Nice passes also set up two other dazzling Magic field goals in the first half. Harris flipped a behind-the-back pass to Oladipo for a scooping layup late in the first quarter to give Orlando a 27-16 lead. And midway through the second quarter, Dewayne Dedmon fell on his rear on a post move, but still had the wherewithal to find Oladipo for a driving layup. Dedmon, starting in place of the injured Nikola Vucevic for a third straight game, had nine boards (four offensive) in the first half alone.

But the strong start was undone by a disastrous second half. Orlando shot just 37 percent in the second half and made only four of 15 shots (26.7 percent) in the fourth quarter.

``Some of (blowing an early lead) falls on the consistency of what guys do night in and night out,’’ said Afflalo, who made six of 14 shots and all six of his free throws. ``We’re not in a consistent rhythm out there individually as players. You’re going to have good units out there at times. As things get more stable and more defined, you will see leads expand.’’