Wizards drop road trip finale in Orlando, 125-121

Despite 44 fourth quarter points and another productive night from their reserves, the Wizards (3-8) fell 125-121 to the Magic (6-7) Sunday night at Amway Center. Bradley Beal totaled 34 points and eight assists, his sixth 30-point game of the season, and became the fifth player in Wizards history to score 10,000 points in his career.

“I like the way we compete,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s fun to coach, it’s fun to watch. We’ve got some things to work on and we will continue to work on. We’ve got to make sure we’re squared away on a lot of things that we talked about going into the game.”

Trailing Orlando 110-98 with four minutes left in the game, the Wizards unleashed an 18-7 run that took just three minutes, cutting the Magic lead to one. Beal took over during the run, scoring 13 points, hitting his all four of his field goal attempts, including three from beyond the arc. A subsequent 5-0 Magic run, capped by an and-one dunk by guard Markelle Fultz, who finished with a career-high 19 points, all but sealed the Orlando win.

“We can’t keep coming back to the drawing board and saying, ‘okay we’ve got this now,” Brooks said. It’s about communicating. We’re playing with great effort. I’m proud of the guys. This is what we do. We compete. We lay everything out there.”

The four Wizards that came off the bench Sunday night combined for 52 points, led by C.J. Miles (21), Davis Bertans (15) and Mortiz Wagner (12). Twenty-one of those 52 bench points came in the second quarter alone. The Wizards reserves continues to be some of the league’s most productive, averaging 45.0 points per game, tied for second in the NBA.

Washington struggled to hit shots early as the Magic defense, which ranks among the league’s best, held them to 33.3% from the field in the first quarter, including misses on all six 3-point attempts. Orlando’s defense helped build an early 22-11 lead, but when Wagner and Miles checked in for the Wizards late in the first quarter, the bench bigs helped save a game in danger of slipping away. Wagner and Miles scored 16 consecutive Washington points to help bring the Wizards back within striking distance.

The Wizards’ 121 points scored marked just the second time this season the Magic defense has given up more than 110 points. Orlando entered Sunday’s matchup ranking top five in defensive rating (101.7), fewest paint points allowed (43.2) and fewest second chance points allowed (11.3) per game.

“We just have to keep chipping at it,” Beal said. “We compete hard enough to win every game. We are top five in offense. We know that is not the problem. We just have to get stops.”

The Magic were led by Nikola Vucevic, who tallied 30 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. Vucevic shot 11-14 (.785) from the field, 3-4 (.750) from 3-point range and 5-5 (1.000) from the free throw line. As a team, Orlando shot 49.4% from the field and 92.3% from the free throw line.

The Wizards are back in D.C. for a three-game homestand starting Wednesday at Capital One Arena, taking on the San Antonio Spurs (5-8) at 7:00 P.M. It will be the teams’ second and final meeting of the season. The Spurs topped the Wizards 124-122 on October 26 despite 25 points and 11 assists from Beal.

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