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Magic take down shorthanded Wizards, 127-120
Despite a game-high 42 points from Bradley Beal, the shorthanded Wizards (6-13) were defeated 127-120 by the Orlando Magic (9-11) Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. The loss snaps a streak of five straight home wins against Orlando.
"They're a long, athletic team and I thought they made threes throughout the game, but they made timely ones as well,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “We fought and we battled and we're obviously shorthanded. We competed. I thought we put them on the free-throw line way too many times in that second half…I give our guys credit. They fought and they battled.”
Prior to the game, the Wizards announced that starting center Thomas Bryant suffered a stress reaction in his right foot and would be out of action for at least three weeks. Already missing Moritz Wagner, C.J. Miles and Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards were forced to get creative with their frontcourt rotations against the Magic.
Isaac Bonga, who started the first seven games of the season, moved into the starting small forward position. Rui Hachimura moved from power forward to center and was replaced in the four spot by Davis Bertans, who made his first start of the season. Isaiah Thomas and Bradley Beal assumed their normal backcourt positions to round out the new-look starting lineup.
From start to finish, the Wizards offense ran through Beal, who tallied season highs in minutes (42) and field goal attempts (30). Beal shot 16-30 (.533) from the field, 3-6 (.500) from 3-point range and 7-10 (.700) from the free throw line on his way to his fourth 40-point game of the season. Only James Harden has more 40-point games this season.
Bertans and Thomas each topped the 20-point mark while Hachimura played one of his most balanced games of the season, scoring 15 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists and just one turnover. Thomas’s 20 points were a season high and the most he has scored since March 14, 2018.
Washington struggled from deep early on, missing their first five 3-point attempts, but supplemented the shooting struggles by getting to the line well above their average rate. The Wizards, who entered the game ranked 28th in the league in free throw attempts per game, hit 12-15 (.880) in the first half.
Neither team managed to create much separation on the scoreboard as the teams traded buckets throughout the first quarter. In one sequence midway through the first, Beal and Orlando’s Markelle Fultz combined to scored 11 consecutive points. Fultz, a DMV native, finished the game with a career-high 20 points.
The Wizards trailed 68-54 halftime, but opened the second half hot, hitting five 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the third quarter. Bertans hit the first three triples – all on consecutive possessions – before Beal knocked a pair to complete a 21-6 run and give the Wizards a 75-74 lead with 8:14 left in the third quarter. Minutes later, Orlando countered with a 14-5 run and took a nine-point lead into the fourth.
Point guards dominated the fourth quarter as D.J. Augustin scored 16 points of his 24 points while Thomas scored nine of his own. The Wizards shot 57.1% from the field in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get enough stops on the defensive end to close the gap.
"We've got to work with what we've got,” Beal said postgame. “We can't make excuses and on top of that it's giving a lot of guys the opportunity to come in and earn minutes. They're going to make the best of [those minutes]. We're just going to keep chipping away. We're right there, it's just being able to maintain our runs and keeping [the other team] from being able to go on such large runs."
Orlando was led by Evan Fournier, who scored 31 points and hit 6-8 (.750) from 3-point range. The Magic, like the Wizards, were missing some frontcourt depth. Starting center, Nikola Vucevic, who went for 30 points, 17 rebounds and six assists in the teams’ first meeting, has missed the last six games due to an ankle injury.
Up next, the Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers (15-6) Thursday night at 7:00 P.M. in the first game of a home-away back-to-back. The following night, Washington heads down to Miami to take on a Heat team that has won nine of their last 11 games and are 8-0 this season at home.