WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 127-110 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five observations from what went down...
The Wizards are still alive in the postseason race, at least for a little while longer. They entered Wednesday with a possible elimination scenario, but by beating the Magic, they avoided it becoming official.
They got the win by riding a big momentum swing that began in the second quarter. Orlando led by seven points after the first, but the Wizards outscored them by 24 points in the final three frames.
Kristaps Porzingis (35 points) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25 points) led the Wizards, with Caldwell-Pope recording his third straight game with 20-plus points. Washington got back in the win column after losing the night before and has now won three of their last four games.
That improved their record for the season to 33-43 with only six games remaining.
Porzingis led the way
There are some nights where Porzingis can separate himself as the clear-cut best player on the floor and Wednesday was one of those nights. He led all scorers and set a season-high with his 35 points on 11-for-18 shooting, also with eight rebounds and two blocks. He was one of three Wizards players with multiple blocks; Daniel Gafford (four) and Rui Hachimura (two) the others. Porzingis once again got the line regularly, shooting 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Porzingis being the best player on the floor in this game may not seem like much on the face of it, with Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma out for the WIzards and the Magic also missing key regulars. But there were still plenty of NBA talent out there and it served as a reminder that Porzingis is, if not a star, something relatively close to one.
Wagner got hot
While the Magic have former Wizards big man Moe Wagner, it was his brother who the Wizards saw much more of on Wednesday. Franz Wagner has been among the best rookies in this year's class and he showed why with 28 points, including 13 in the first quarter alone. Franz Wagner also had five rebounds and shot 11-for-20 overall.
Franz Wagner is very mobile for 6-foot-10 and has an excellent feel for the game on both ends of the floor. In this game, he did everything from hit spot-up threes to feed Mo Bamba for an alley-oop off a pick-and-roll. The Magic have had a tough run of draft picks in recent years and so far their top 2021 pick, Jalen Suggs, has struggled. But they may have found a really good one in Franz Wagner, who was the eighth overall selection.
Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said something interesting before the game about Deni Avdija's defensive trajectory this season. Avdija was really good early in the season, then went through some ups and downs, and lately has started to shine once again on that end of the floor. Unseld Jr. gave an explanation which makes a lot of sense, that Avdija was so impressive early on they asked him to do a lot more, to take on tougher assignments and carry more responsibility.
There was an adjustment period, but Avdija is once again making a two-way impact. He had a really nice block on R.J. Hampton in the first half, as he recovered on a quick drive by Hampton to the rim. Avdija was one of the key contributors to a defensive effort that held the Magic to just 41.7% shooting from the field. He also pitched in with eight points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Sato the PG
Tomas Satoransky chose the Wizards not only because of his familiarity with the organization and the city, but because he sensed an opportunity to revive his career. He played his way into the starting lineup recently and against the Magic helped the Wizards get the win with key contributions in an unselfish way. That included a play late in the first half that may have been the Wizards' best highlight of the night, a push ahead pass to Hachimura who threw down a big fastbreak slam.
Satoransky had zero points and only took two shots, but also recorded 13 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the ultimate pass-first point guard stat-line. In fact, he's only the third player in NBA history with a 0-10-10 game. He just kept the offense moving and got others involved. Satoranksy is hoping to earn another NBA contract and, whether it happens here or elsewhere, Wednesday's game likely helped that cause.