The Orlando Magic nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback effort in Memphis that would have extended their winning streak to four games and kept their momentum rolling against postseason-contending squads.
Instead, Orlando’s turnovers and inability to finish possessions early in the contest proved to be too much to overcome against the second-best team in the Western Conference.
Now, the Magic (32-44) will look to correct those mistakes when they close out their road trip with a stop in Washington, D.C. to face the Wizards (34-42) on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
After losing their prior seven matchups with the Wizards, Orlando defeated Washington in their last meeting, just over one week ago, 122-112.
In that outing, the Magic used a balanced offensive attack – seven players scoring in double figures – and controlled the glass, outrebounding the Wizards 42-33, to earn a victory. They’ll look to replicate that winning formula on Friday night.
“It’s going to come down to taking care of the basketball and moving the ball,” said Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley. “Quick decisions. Offensively, can we crash the glass and give ourselves extra possessions. And defend without fouling. That’s going to be the best thing we can do tonight.”
With Bradley Beal (left knee soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (right ankle sprain) ruled out for this contest, Washington’s offensive attack will be led by Kristaps Porzingis.
In three games against Orlando this season, the 7-foot-3 big man is averaging 25.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per contest while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from long range. On the season, Porzingis is one of just three players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, eight rebounds and one block per game.
“He’s playing at a great clip right now,” said Mosley. “So, our ability to get to him and defend him without fouling is going to be key tonight.”
IN AND OUT: Kevon Harris (left elbow bruise) and Jonathan Isaac (left adductor surgery) are out for Orlando.
For Washington, Daniel Gafford (left foot soreness) is questionable, while Beal, Kuzma, and Isaiah Todd (G League – On Assignment) are out.
KEY STAT: Franz Wagner picked up a new nickname this season: “Fourth-Quarter Franz.” The 6-foot-10 forward lived up to his moniker against the Grizzlies on Tuesday by scoring 16 of his team-high 25 points during the final frame.
Wagner has now scored 411 points in the fourth quarter this season, which ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference and 10th in NBA.
“He just has the will to want to win,” said Mosley. “I think that it’s such a unique quality that he possesses that he’s going to do whatever it takes and is necessary to try and help the team get the win.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Michael Carter-Williams is really like a mentor to me. He’s really been like a big brother since I got here. He was here when I was a rookie, and he was actually here a little bit last year too. I’m really happy to get him back on this squad. He’s really like a mentor to me.” – Magic guard Cole Anthony on MCW
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.