The Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 125-119 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...
Magic Almost Got Them: The Wizards hosted an injury-depleted Orlando Magic team that had lost 15 of their last 16 games, a Magic team that is among the worst offensive teams in the NBA. All of that, of course, did not matter as the Wizards once again did what they are so often prone to do: they played down to a lesser opponent.
This time they came away with a win and at the end of the day, that's all that matters. They snapped a two-game losing skid to earn their 24th win in the first game of the second half of their season. They are now 10-5 since John Wall returned from injury, which is nothing to sneeze at and the sample size is growing.
The Wizards were fine on offense, per usual. They scored 125 points and shot 56.8 percent from the field. They had 62 points in the paint and 37 points from their bench led by Ian Mahinmi with a season-high 17 points and eight rebounds all in 21 minutes. It was his most points since signing with the Wizards two summers ago.
The offense was good, but defense was an issue that head coach Scott Brooks will be shaking his head about, regardless of the result. The Magic managed 119 points on 51.3 percent from the field, way above their 45.5 percent season average. Elfrid Payton killed them with 27 points, eight assists and five rebounds as all five Magic starts reached double figures.
[PODCAST: BRADLEY BEAL ON HIS GROWTH AS A LEADER]
Beal Bounces Back: Before the game, Magic head coach Frank Vogel said there is no question Bradley Beal should be an All-Star. Beal certainly backed that up with his performance against Orlando. Beal came out hot with 23 points in the first half, 17 of which came in the second quarter. He ended up with 30 on 12-for-17 from the field. Beal also had seven assists.
Beal's full repertoire of moves was on display. He was lighting the Magic up with crossovers and stepback jumpers. What was interesting is that he didn't hit a three in the entire game. The Magic did their best to take that away, but it wasn't enough to hold Beal in check.
Wall's Injury Scare: Wall plays so hard at times that he often puts his body in harm's way. It happened again late in the first half when Wall went for a rebound in the final second and rolled his left ankle. Wall was limping and wincing in pain as he left the court. Obviously, this was concerning.
But Wall came back out in the second half and didn't look limited at all. In fact, he dominated at times. He poured in 10 points in the third quarter and finished with 30 for the game to go along with nine assists, three rebounds and three blocks.
Wall, by the way, became the youngest player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history to reach 10,000 career points with a first quarter layup.
The guy keeps cementing himself as one of the best players this town has ever seen.
Biyombo Balled Out The Wizards had no answer for a guy who usually does not score much at all. Orlando big man Bismack Biyombo has made a career out of rebounding and defense with an average of just 5.0 points per game this season, but he got everything he wanted in the first half on Friday night. Biyombo had 13 points in the first quarter on 5-for-5 from the field and set a career-high in the second when he got to 18 points.
Biyombo isn't a good shooter, so most of his points came off dunks and layups. What made it all extra surprising was that Biyombo hit his free throws. He is a career 56 percent free throw shooter, yet he went 5-for-6 from the line.
The Wizards just couldn't stop him. He finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds on 8-for-9 from the field and was a big reason why the Magic kept it close.
Meeks was MIA: The Wizards gave Jodie Meeks an extended opportunity in their last game against the Jazz when he played 17 minutes. It looked like they were determined to let him shoot his way out of what has been a season-long slump.
In this game Meeks was banished to the back of the bench. Whether it was a matchup issue or not, Meeks didn't see the floor for a single minute. Considering the team was playing the first of a back-to-back and they are already down several roster spots, it was strange to see Meeks go missing in their rotation.
Dance Cam Legend: You have to see this Wizards fan who crushed it on the dance cam:
Best Wizards dance Cam performance of the year so far. Dude had a cigar and everything. pic.twitter.com/QVKyCdcr2I— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) January 13, 2018
The crowd went wild for that guy.
Up next: The Wizards pick right back up on Saturday night by hosting the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.