Nationals

Wizards end 8-game skid, top slumping Magic 105-97

201212281856681820769-p2.jpeg

Wizards end 8-game skid, top slumping Magic 105-97

WASHINGTON (AP) Jordan Crawford scored 27 points and the worst-in-the-NBA Washington Wizards showed they can still win a game every once in a while, breaking an eight-game losing streak Friday night with a 105-97 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Nene added season highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds and shot fourth-quarter free throws while hearing chants of ``R-G-3!'' - the new equivalent of ``M-V-P!'' in a city where Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is the new superstar - as Washington won by its largest margin of the season.

The game represented one-quarter of the win total for the 4-23 Wizards, who have been stymied in part by the knee injury that has kept franchise player John Wall on the sidelines. Crawford's point total tied the high for any Washington player this season.

Arron Afflalo scored 26 points and J.J. Redick added 23 for the Magic, who have lost four straight since Glen Davis sprained his left shoulder in the final minute of a win over these same Wizards last week. The Magic ended an NBA-best 12-game streak of holding opponents under 100 points, while Washington hit the century mark for the first time in 12 games.

Early on, the sound of ``Three points - Jameer Nelson'' came from the public address announcer as if on a continuous loop. Nelson made three in less than a minute, and the Magic went 5 for 5 from 3-point range to build a 25-8 lead less than seven minutes into the game.

But the Wizards this season have perfected the pattern of digging a big hole early and then making a game of it. Crawford and Garrett Temple came off the bench to dominate the second quarter. The rally was already well under way when Crawford fed Bradley Beal for an alley-oop dunk, and Crawford and Temple hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wizards the lead.

Crawford's fadeaway jumper put Washington ahead 54-51 at the half and gave him 14 points in the second quarter.

Crawford hit another 3, and Shelvin Mack chipped in four points during a 12-0 run that gave Washington a 78-63 lead late in the third. A 3-pointer by Redick pulled the Magic to 80-72 to end the period, and Afflalo's jumper made it a three-point game early in the fourth.

But the Wizards were able to close out a game for a change. Nene, Crawford, Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster all hit big shots down the stretch. By contrast, Orlando's Nelson, who couldn't miss early, was 1 for 9 over the final three quarters and finished with 16 points.

NOTES: Orlando G E'Twaun Moore sprained his left elbow in the first quarter and did not return. ... Magic F Hedo Turkoglu, out since breaking his left hand in the season opener, made the trip and took part in the morning shootaround but did not suit up for the game. ``We'll see how his body responds,'' coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``I'll kind of assess it in the next day or two.'' Turkoglu's next chance to return in Saturday's home game against the Toronto Raptors. ... The Wizards also have a back-to-back, playing the Chicago Bulls on the road Saturday.

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Quick Links

Max Scherzer received cortisone shot for back and won't pitch against Braves

Max Scherzer received cortisone shot for back and won't pitch against Braves

Max Scherzer will not pitch this weekend against the Braves, the pitcher confirmed to reporters in Atlanta.

Scherzer has been diagnosed with Scapulothoracic bursitis.

Before the game on Friday night, he joked that he had to Google what the term means. He described the pain as "like having a rock in your shoe and trying to run."

On Tuesday, Scherzer was given a cortisone shot to help with inflammation. He is hopeful he will be able to throw a bullpen session in four or five days. 

Former teammate Shawn Kelley was able to advise Scherzer, having just dealt with this issue. 

Austin Voth is confirmed to start on Sunday in place of Scherzer.

Scherzer was placed on 10-day injured list on July 13, retroactive to July 10. This is just the third time in his career that his name has appeared on the injured list.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: