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Question of the Day
WASHINGTON | After the game, J.J. Redick was dishing out geography trivia and talking about Duke’s run in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Too bad his conversational versatility doesn’t also include hockey — because it was a stat usually associated with the sport on ice that stood out in the Orlando Magic’s eighth straight win.
Redick led the Magic in plus-minus, his team outscoring the opponent by 21 points while he was on the floor, part of another solid bench effort in Orlando’s 109-95 victory Saturday over the worn-down, back-to-back-to-back Washington Wizards.
Dwight Howard had 28 points and 15 rebounds, but it was Redick (18 points), Brandon Bass (16 points, nine rebounds), Mickael Pietrus and Jason Williams who led the rally when the Magic found themselves trailing by 15 in the second quarter.
Redick said the second group has been focused anew since a 95-85 loss to Dallas on Feb. 19.
“We were all horrible that night, and after that game we kind of all got together and said ‘We’ve got to be better,’” Redick said. “Even during the first quarter tonight, MP looked at me and said something to everybody, that we needed to pick things up for the starters.”
Since the Dallas game, the Magic have won 10 of 11, and the eight-game run is the franchise’s longest winning streak since April 2006. Against the Wizards, Redick scored 10 points in a 24-6 spurt that gave Orlando the lead for good, and the Magic shot 74 percent from the field in the second quarter.
“That’s what got us going,” Howard said. “Guys came in and played defense and we hit shots and was able to run and be effective in transition, and that’s the way we got back into the game and ended up winning the game.”
Vince Carter also scored 18 points for the Magic, who are 4 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for best record in the Eastern Conference. Howard went 11 for 13 from the field and also had five assists.
Andray Blatche scored 32 points for the Wizards, who lost their season-high seventh straight game. Washington wrapped up a stretch of three games in three nights with a road trip in the middle, a rare scheduling quirk caused when a game was postponed by a February blizzard.
“There’s no question we got fatigued,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said. “Halftime, we came in to rest, it’s like we thought about how long we’d been playing, and we had no juice to start the second half.”
Shaun Livingston had 18 points and eight assists off the bench for the Wizards, who aren’t getting any kind of break in the schedule. They’ll spend Sunday traveling, then play back-to-back games at Utah and Denver on Monday and Tuesday to start a four-game road trip. Saunders called it “ridiculous” that his team will have only one day off at the end of that trip, then just only one home game before hitting the road again.
“I guess it’s like that commercial,” Saunders said. “‘Give it to Mikey. He’ll eat it, he’ll do anything.’”
The Wizards didn’t start the game like a team needing rest from playing an AAU schedule. They ran up and down the court with the Magic, pulling off a 14-0 run to take a 35-20 lead early in the second quarter.
But Redick, Bass and Pietrus took over for the rest of the half, then Howard stole the show to start the third quarter. He made a hook shot, slammed an alley-oop on a pass from Jameer Nelson, recorded a steal, blocked one of Blatche’s shots and hit a free throw — all during an 8-0 run during the first two minutes of the second half.
Another alley-oop from Nelson to Howard pushed the lead to 16 points. The Wizards cut it to nine late in the third quarter while Howard was on the bench, but Redick scored eight points in a 15-4 run to open the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Notes: Redick’s geography trivia questions: Name nine countries starting with the letter “I”, and name the four states whose capitals start with the same letter as the state. … Regarding Duke basketball, he referenced the bragging rights he has this season over North Carolina product Carter. “Vince and I made a very small bet on the game, and Duke wins by 32 and he takes a week to pay me,” Redick said. “I didn’t even charge him interest. I think it should be double if a team wins by 32.” … Pietrus returned after missing one game with a strained neck muscle. … Saunders called JaVale McGee’s performance “very poor.” ”You can’t have a starting center not get a defensive rebound,” the coach said.
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