For the second time in three days, the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic duked it out at the Amway Center. Despite a competitive, back-and-forth game for four quarters -- one that never saw a lead reach double digits for either ball club -- the Magic executed better down the stretch, earning the win. Final score: Magic 130, Wizards 125.
BIG NIGHTS FOR KYLE KUZMA AND DANIEL GAFFORD
Kyle Kuzma was the primary weapon for the Wizards' offense once again. He's been consistently effective all season long, and Friday night was no different. After six straight games of facilitating -- averaging 8.2 assists per contest -- Kuzma put his scoring hat on. He set the tone right off the jump, pouring in 12 points in the first quarter and helping jumpstart the offensive flow.
His frontcourt partner Daniel Gafford was right there with him. Gafford was all over the glass, rolling hard to the rim, playing through contact, and finishing at the cup. While Kuzma led the way with 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field, Gafford's 18-point, 11-rebound double-double was equally as meaningful. Gafford also dished out three assists and blocked three shots.
THE BENCH UNIT HOLDING IT DOWN
Kuzma and Gafford set the pace for the starters, but the Wizards bench kept things going when those guys needed a break.
Bilal Coulibaly was extremely active in his 32 minutes of play, scoring 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field to go along with five rebounds and three steals. Danilo Gallinari was solid, knocking down three of his four shots. And the wing duo of Landry Shamet and Corey Kispert was phenomenal. Those two guys combined for 28 points and spaced the floor beautifully, shooting 7-of-9 from deep.
Every time the Magic made a little run, it felt like Shamet or Kispert stepped up and hit a big three. They were pivotal in keeping this game competitive for all 48 minutes.
ORLANDO'S FRONTCOURT TAKING OVER
While the Wizards had some solid individual performances and did some stellar things on offense, Orlando's frontcourt ended up being the biggest difference maker. After a tough game on Wednesday night, Paolo Banchero came out with a vengeance, scoring 15 first-half points. He finished the game with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field to go along with 13 boards and seven assists.
Banchero's star frontcourt partner Franz Wagner had another massive outing alongside him, scoring a game-high 31 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe to go along with eight assists and seven boards of his own. For those who don't want to do the math, Banchero and Wagner combined for 59 points, 20 rebounds, and 15 assists -- elite production from the three main box score categories.
"They got positional size," said Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. after the game when asked about the matchup problems Banchero and Wagner pose. "Both able to play pick and roll, score on three levels, stretch you a little bit from three, play off the bounce, can post you... I think both guys play at their own pace so it's tough to speed them up. Very good in the pocket, slow-playing drives, and do a great job of finishing through contact. So it's quite the duo, and because of that size, it's a tough matchup."
As if those two guys weren't enough, the Magic got a big boost from Franz's brother, Moritz Wagner, who dropped 18 points in 23 minutes off the bench.
The Wizards now have a four-day break before taking the court on December 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers.