One of the surprise teams in the NBA, the Orlando Magic can't figure out the Wizards who beat them for the third time in a row, 103-91, to start the New Year on Friday at Verizon Center in front of 16,986.
The Wizards (15-16) had six players score in double figures led by John Wall's 14th double-double since Dec. 1 and 18th overall (24 points, 13 assists), Otto Porter's third double-double of the season (20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals), Ramon Sessions (13 points, five rebounds, four assists), Kris Humphries (11 points), Garrett Temple (11 points) and Marcin Gortat his 13th double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds).
The Magic (19-14) were led by D.C. native Victor Oladipo (20 points), who came off the bench, and Nikola Vucevic (14 points, seven rebounds).
After Washington came out of the locker room at halftime to take a 12-point lead on a three-pointer from Temple, they went silent and allowed Orlando to tie the score at 72 entering the fourth.
But it was a 15-3 run in the fourth, led by Wall and Humphries, that put this one away and ended the Wizards' two-game losing streak. Humphries scored all of his points in the fourth.
- After being pounded on the boards in a loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Wizards had the edge (46-39) and were plus-five (12-7) offensively. They also fewer turnovers (10) than Orlando (16). Both of these stats are good signs.
- It doesn't have to be Porter or rookie Kelly Oubre. It can be both. For the second game in a row, with Porter back in the starting lineup, Oubre shared the court with him and it produced good results. Both are long and defensively capable and both can run the floor. Off of Temple's backdoor cut, he found Oubre in the corner and he made the extra pass to Wall, who took a three-point shot that rimmed off. Then Oubre darted in, timed the carom perfectly for a one-hand putback slam. At the end of the second, Wall drove into the paint and Oubre was left alone for a wide-open three and he cashed in. The movement and activity appears to be at another level with Porter and Oubre together. Oubre made a backdoor cut and got a bounce pass from Sessions for a dunk at 3:51 to give Washington its largest lead 93-81. The rookie, who played all 12 minutes of the fourth with the game on the line, had seven points and five rebounds in 21 minutes though he misfired on two lobs for dunks from Wall.
- Drew Gooden originally was listed as out by the Wizards, but the 6-10 forward warmed up with the team and played for the first time since Nov. 17. Gooden blocked Evan Fournier to force a 24-second shot-clock violation but that's where his night ended. He picked up three fouls in three minutes. Gooden left the game after the third quarter and didn't return, walking to the locker room with head athletic trainer Eric Waters. He re-injured his right calf and likely will be set back.
- Jason Smith came off the bench to keep Orlando close with eight points in the first half as he made 4 of 6 shots. Smith, who has had his career hobbled by knee injuries, is a mid-range shooter and Gortat wasn't able to get to him away from the basket in time. When Smith would hear the defensive calls, he'd pop and get open looks which put Gortat in a tough spot. Smith also had a layup to tie the score at 76. In previous meetings, Dewayne Dedmon was called on but he was too undersized to defend in the post. In the fourth, coach Randy Wittman went with Humphries on Smith and then Vucevic and it worked better. He hit consecutive jumpers to give the Wizards an 82-78 lead, blocked Oladipo's drive at the rim and then answered Oladipo's three with a three of his own. The Wizards led 88-81.
- When Wall left the game, the ball pressure picked up full court. Oladipo disrupted Sessions and got a steal for a breakaway dunk that trimmed Orlando's deficit to 69-67. The pace came out and open shots were tough to come by. Sessions, however, did make 2 of 3 three-point shots as he was left wide open.