By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards look to win their third game in a row as they host the Orlando Magic tonight at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The season series is tied, 1-1, with both teams winning on their home floor.
Both teams are coming off a significant win as the Wizards won their second in a row on Saturday night over Atlanta while the Magic upset the Clippers in L.A. to snap a 10-game losing streak. The Wizards are trying to build some momentum now that their star point guard, John Wall, is back in the lineup. He missed the team's first 33 games with a knee injury, but based on his performance Saturday night (14 points, 4 assists), it appears that he is fully healthy and ready to lead this team. While his minutes will continue to be limited until his conditioning is back to 100%, just having his presence back on the court has seemed to make a world of difference for the Wizards.
The last time these two teams met, the Wizards took down the Magic, 105-97, on December 28th at Verizon Center. It was a strange game in that the Magic got out to a 25-8 lead in the first quarter before the Wizards would come storming back in the second to take a halftime lead. The Wizards would take command of the second half and cruise to victory, behind a season-high 27 points from Jordan Crawford. Unfortunately, Crawford may not be able to go tonight as he is still day-to-day with a sore left ankle.
The Magic had lost 10 in a row before beating the Clippers on Saturday, but seven of those 10 games were within one possession in the final minute. It was a case of many breaks not going their way along with the loss of Glen Davis that added up to the long losing streak. But, Davis returned to practice on Sunday and is questionable to return to action tonight. Davis injured his shoulder in the Wizards-Magic first meeting in Orlando in the middle of December. He could add a big boost to a team that would like to start a winning streak of their own.
If Davis can't go, the Magic will use guys like Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, and Josh McRoberts to fill in down low and more likely heavily rely on their backcourt with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, and J.J. Redick leading the way. Afflalo is coming off a 30 point effort in L.A., while Reddick finished with 21 off the bench.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
Bradley Beal is averaging 17.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1assists in his last seven games and has started to show the nation why he was taken #3 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He is starting to emerge as the Wizards go-to scorer, evident by him getting the call to take the big shots at the end of games. A major step up for a 19 year-old rookie who in some tight games at the beginning of the season was left off the floor.
On the other side will be the Magic's leading scorer, Arron Afflalo. Afflalo is their most prolific scorer and has really transformed from a defensive specialist into an all-around two-guard. His points per game have gone up every year since his rookie season in 2007-08. The Wizards did a good job defending him in their first meeting, holding him to just 33% shooting (6-18), but he went for 26 points in their last contest. He is coming off a 30 point performance in L.A. so stymieing his offensive output could be critical for a Wizards win tonight.
In the below clip, John Wall feeds Beal for the jam.
In this clip from the Wizards-Magic last meeting, Beal skies for the alley-oop.