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Wizards hold on to beat Magic behind John Wall and Bradley Beal big scoring nights

Wizards hold on to beat Magic behind John Wall and Bradley Beal big scoring nights

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.


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:

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.

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Markieff Morris

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Markieff Morris' season...

Player: Markieff Morris

Position: Power forward

Age: 28

2017-18 salary: $8 million

2017-18 stats: 73 G, 27.0 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.9 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg, 48.0 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 82.0 FT%, 53.6 eFG%, 116 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 12/1 vs. Pistons - 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, zero turnovers, 10-for-16 FG, 2-for-3 3PT

Season review: It took quite a while for Markieff Morris to get healthy in the 2017-18 season. He was sidelined to begin last offseason with the ankle injury he suffered against the Celtics in the playoffs, then in September had surgery on both his abdomen and groin. The sports hernia surgery was known, while the groin procedure was revealed once the season was over.

Morris only missed nine games in the entire season, but took time to find his rhythm early. He averaged just 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 14 games in the month of November. He picked it up after that, though he never quite reached the level we saw from him in 2016-17 in terms of volume production.

Morris played less minutes, took less shots, scored fewer points and grabbed less rebounds than the season before. On the other hand, he was more efficient than ever. Morris shot 48 percent from the field, his best since 2013-14, and posted career-highs in three-point percentage (36.7) and effective field-goal percentage (53.6). 

The Wizards could use more scoring from Morris moving forward, especially at times when one of their primary options is injured, as was the case in 2017-18 when John Wall missed 41 games. An active and engaged Morris changes everything for the Wizards. 

When Morris scored 15 points or more this season, the Wizards went 15-8. The season before, they went 22-9 when he got to the 15-point mark. 

It's a bit difficult to project Morris' role for the 2018-19 season at this point, given the fact he's entering a contract year and the most logical area for the Wizards to make significant changes (if they choose to) is in their frontcourt. Also, as Morris discussed in his exit interview, he knows more time at center in small-ball sets could be in his future.

Regardless of what happens with the team, it's a huge summer for Morris individually. If he sets himself up well for a big year in 2018-19, he could earn a nice payday in what might be his last long-term contract given his age.

Potential to improve: Rebounding, screens, scoring

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Marcin Gortat, C

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Marcin Gortat

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Marcin Gortat's season...

Player: Marcin Gortat

Position: Center

Age: 34

2017-18 salary: $12.8 million

2017-18 stats: 82 G, 25.3 mpg, 8.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.7 bpg, 51.8 FG%, 67.5 FT%, 51.8 eFG%, 112 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 10/18 vs. Sixers - 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, assist, 7-for-12 FG

Season review: Marcin Gortat is self-aware enough to know that what happened to him in 2017-18 was inevitable in many ways. He even publicly called it before the season.

He was one year older, with Ian Mahinmi healthy and in the rotation, and with the NBA continuing to move towards small-ball and big men who can play on the perimeter. As a result, Gortat saw his role in the Wizards rotation pared down noticeably.

Though he still started all 82 games, his minutes went down from 31.2 per game the year before the 25.3. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who played the majority of the season coming off the bench, logged more minutes than Gortat, though he was a starter.

Gortat's minutes were his fewest since the 2009-10 season, when he was a 25-year-old bench player for the Orlando Magic. His numbers this season followed suit. Gortat's points and rebounds per game were both the lowest since that 2009-10 campaign.

Gortat averaged a career-best 10.4 rebounds per game in 2016-17, but the minutes had a direct effect on his volume of boards. He pulled in 2.4 less per game this season despite his rebound percentage (17.0) being close to his career average (17.5). That career average, by the way, is 30th-best all-time an eighth among active players.

Not getting the same opportunities he had in years past, plus public misunderstandings with teammates, combined to make for a frustrating year for Gortat. He said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast midseason it was the worst year of his career. Gortat, though, did continue to make an impact setting screens for the Wizards and he rallied to finish relatively strong.

He had several solid outings in the playoffs, including his 16 points in Game 3 and his 12 rebounds in Game 5. The question is whether that is the last time we will see Gortat in a Wizards uniform.

Washington has played with the idea of trading Gortat for a while now. He popped up in rumors around the trade deadline in February, but remained on the roster. Now he has an expiring contract working in his favor, making it a bit more likely he gets dealt.

Gortat knows his future in Washington is uncertain, though he said following the season he would like to stay. It would not be surprising to him or anyone if he were traded this summer. If not, he's got one year left with the Wizards and could very well have his role decreased even more.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, midrange shooting, free throw percentage

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!