Magic Come Up Short Against Wizards in Another Down-to-the-Wire Affair
The good news is the Orlando Magic have been in every game until the very end lately. The bad news is they haven’t been able to pull any wins out of them. The latest such defeat came Sunday in a 102-100 loss to the Washington Wizards at Amway Center.
A frenzied final minute saw the Magic cut a six-point deficit down to one with seconds left. After Bradley Beal split a pair at the free throw line, the Magic, without a timeout handy, raced down the floor looking to either tie the game with a two or win it with a three. Gary Harris, off a drive-and-kick from Franz Wagner, launched a 3-point attempt from the right corner that was partially blocked by Beal. The ball ricocheted over to Chuma Okeke, but he was unable to convert on a floater at the buzzer over the outstretched arms of Kyle Kuzma.
Terrence Ross exploded for 32 points, one shy of his season high, on 13-of-20 shooting overall. It was his 10th 30-plus-point performance since the Magic acquired him in 2017. Wagner came on strong late, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
From the midway point of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth, Ross scored 20 straight Magic points. That’s tied for the most consecutive points ever scored by a Magic player. Tracy McGrady had 20 straight points in a game against the Bulls on Feb. 21, 2003.
Wendell Carter Jr. (hamstring), Robin Lopez (return to competition reconditioning), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Montrezl Harrell (health and safety protocols), Anthony Gill (health and safety protocols), and Thomas Bryant (knee) were unavailable for Washington.
This Day in History
Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time the Magic hosted the Wizards on a Jan. 9. On this day in 2004, Tracy McGrady erupted for 35 points and Juwan Howard, Franz Wagner’s college coach at the University of Michigan, recorded a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in Orlando’s victory over Washington. Larry Hughes, who finished his NBA career with the Magic several years later, led the Wizards with 26 points.
Buyers or sellers? That’s the big question for the Wizards as we inch closer to the trade deadline. Washington currently sits in ninth place in the East at 20-20. What makes their situation unique is that they have a blend of veterans and young players. Do they shift their focus to developing their young talent, or do they go all in now and perhaps try to cash in on some of the assets they possess to increase their chances of securing a playoff spot and making some noise should they qualify?
Quote of the Night
“I think we are making a bigger emphasis on the last five minutes of the game, the last three minutes of the game. That’s usually what it comes down to in every game. I think we are just doing a better job understanding time, score, (and) situation. The outcomes haven’t been what we liked, but we are sticking with it. We are learning. We are growing. We are making improvements, so we are going to get over this hump eventually.” - Ross
Wednesday’s rematch against the Wizards will mark the start of the second half of the Magic’s season. Game No. 42, only fitting considering Orlando has spent most of their season on the road to this point, will be played in the nation’s capital at 7 p.m. From D.C., the Magic will take the short flight to Charlotte to play the Hornets on Friday, and then off to Dallas they go to complete their three-game road trip on Saturday against the Mavs.