ORLANDO -- The last time the Wizards won the first game to open a season is 2009, the year before John Wall was drafted No. 1 overall. That changed Wednesday as the sixth-year point guard took over late as they staged a comeback to beat the Orlando Magic for the 10th time in a row at Amway Center.
The Wizards were in control early and fizzled after the first quarter, and they regained the lead late by Wall who had two steals that resulted in a three-pointer for Bradley Beal and a layup for him.
With the score tied at 78 and the Wizards briefly taking the lead in the waning minutes, the Magic went up 87-82 and then stalled. The key play was Wall's block of Tobias Harris that led to a transition tip-in from Otto Porter to cut the deficit 87-86 with 50 seconds left. The Wizards seized the lead out of a timeout as Wall hit a one-handed floater and held on after a missed shot by Harris was called goal-tending on Bradley Beal.
After officials reviewed the play, the call was reversed though the Magic still had one last chance with 3.5 seconds. Nikola Vucevic's jumper over Marcin Gortat, however, was errant.
Beal had 24 points to lead all scorers on 9 of 19 shooting but made just 2 of 8 threes to go with six rebounds. Wall had 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, five blocks and three steals. Kris Humprhies had 11 and six rebounds and Gortat 10 and eight rebounds.
Orlando had six players core in double figures led by Victor Oladipo with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Tobias Harris with 15 points and seven rebounds, Aaron Gordon with 12 and seven rebounds, Elfrid Payton and Mario Hezonja with 11 and Nikola Vucevic 10.
Hezonja, a rookie, had a chance to give the Magic the lead with 38 seconds left but lost the ball off his knee on the drive. That set the stage for Wall's shot.
- Could the pace be effecting how the Wizards shot free throws? They were just 8 of 15 in the first half, with Wall and Beal each going 0-for-2 in the last 1:48. They could've gone into the half with a better cushion than 53-51. Drew Gooden knocked down his first shot 30 seconds after stepping onto the court, an open three-pointer at 4:22 of the first quarter, but he could barely walk off the floor at midway through the second quarter. He missed his next four shots, the last coming on an open three that suggested he had no legs. The Wizards shot 15 of 25 on foul shots and Gooden only made 1 of 6 shots from the field.
- Otto Porter was subtle with his effectiveness. He created buckets for teammates with passes in tight spaces, got to the rim, deflected passes by the Magic and got out in transition to give the Wizards opportunities at easier baskets. But he has to score more than seven points to go with his eight rebounds and five assists as the starting small forward. He had a wide-open three with the Wizards down 87-86 in the final minute but shot an airball.
- Turnovers by the backcourt continue to be problematic. The Wizards started slowly because Beal had two on their first two possessions. Wall had four in the first half. Two of them came on drives to the basket in traffic when he drew contact and didn't get the calls he expected. They opened the third with a 6-0 run for a 59-51 lead, then turnovers destroyed the flow of the game. Humphries passed up an open shot which led to a traveling violation with the shot clock running down, Porter was blocked and couldn't get off a shot in time and Beal stepped on the baseline during a drive. Instead of having a double-digit lead, the Wizards were hanging on for dear life after three, trailing 67-65. Eighteen overall turnovers are too many. The starting backcourt accounted for 10.
- Humphries made a three-pointer at 2:33 of the second quarter to put the Wizards up 49-47. It was his first long-distance make in a regular season game since his rookie season with the Utah Jazz. The last time he'd made one was Dec. 10, 2004.
- While it wasn't surprising that rookie Kelly Oubre didn't play, Jared Dudley, who recently returned to the play the final two preseason games after lower back surgery, didn't get off the bench.
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