Magic’s Balanced Scoring Not Enough Against Beal, Westbrook and the Wizards

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Among the most encouraging things we’ve seen from this young and developing Orlando Magic squad is their balanced scoring. That was conspicuous again on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards, as six Magic players scored in double figures for the fourth straight game. In this contest, however, it was Orlando’s lack of focus and attention to detail on the defensive end that cost them in a 131-116 defeat at Amway Center.

Top Performers

Leading the way for the Magic in the scoring department was Terrence Ross, which isn’t much of a surprise considering he is the most experienced player on the roster. The 6-foot-6 veteran, now in his ninth NBA season, posted 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor. It was the 14th time this season he scored at least 20 points. Mo Bamba, meanwhile, was also terrific, as the 22-year-old recorded a career-best 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting overall and 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

Player Spotlight

Wendell Carter Jr. continues to impress with his new squad. For the fifth straight game, the 6-foot-10, 270-pound center scored in double figures, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting against the Wizards. While most of his baskets came in the paint, he did knock down his one 3-point attempt. Extending his range will be crucial as he continues to develop and advance his offensive repertoire.

Key Stretch

The early portion of the fourth quarter belonged to Bamba, who made four straight shots in that stretch to pull the Magic within five after they trailed by as many as 21 earlier in the night. The Wizards, however, recaptured momentum using a 10-0 run midway through that final frame. Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook, who had a triple-double, Deni Avdija and Robin Lopez each scored in that time.

Rookie Watch

Back in action after missing the last 25 games with a cracked rib, Cole Anthony scored 13 points, dished out seven assists and grabbed a rebound off the bench. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound guard got off to a red-hot start, making his first three shots, including a driving layup in which he used some nifty ball handling to elude multiple defenders on his way to the basket. Fellow rookie R.J. Hampton also had a solid night with 14 points and six rebounds.

Key Stat

Although normally a weakness of theirs, the Wizards found the mark from downtown on this night. They drilled 19 of their 36 3-point attempts. Davis Bertans, who scored 22 points, knocked down six of them. Going into Wednesday’s NBA action, Washington ranked 28th in both threes made per game (10.5) and percentage from beyond the arc (34.2%).

Quote of the Night

“The feeling was surreal being able to just be back on the court. Twenty-five games is a lot of games. That’s almost a college season, which is crazy to think about. I was out two months. That’s a very, very long time. The first time I checked into the game, it was an awesome feeling and about a minute later I was winded. But, I’m just glad to have one game under my belt. Unfortunately it was a loss.” – Anthony

Up Next

The Magic will be back at Amway Center on Friday night when they take on the Indiana Pacers, who defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Aaron Holiday led Indiana with 22 points, while his older brother, Justin Holiday, scored 21. Domantas Sabonis (ankle), Malcolm Brogdon (hip) and Myles Turner (ankle) did not play. The Pacers currently sit in ninth place in the East, 1 ½ games back of the Boston Celtics for eighth and 1 ½ games ahead of the 10th-placed Chicago Bulls.

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