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Nene, Beal lead Wizards past Magic, 96-86
Question of the Day
If the Wizards hold on to the sixth seed, they will face either Toronto or Chicago in the first round. If they drop to No. 7, it’s either Indiana or Miami.
“I think it matters where we finish, but I’ve never been in the playoffs so I don’t really know how it goes,” said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who had 16 points against Orlando. “No matter who we get, it’s going to be a tough series and we’re going to have to pick it up offensively. I think defensively, we’re solid, but we’re going to have to start knocking down more shots.”
The Wizards were just 2 for 19 on 3-pointers and Beal made both of those. The bulk of their offense came right around the rim where Nene had 17 points, Trevor Booker 14 and Marcin Gortat 10. Point guard John Wall created most of those opportunities, handing out 12 assists to go with 10 points.
“We didn’t make shots, but defensively, we won the game,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “We never did shoot the ball particularly well, but we never lost the edge defensively.”
Orlando will not be in the playoffs this season, but had hoped to build some positive momentum for next season after winning its last two games. Instead, the Magic resorted to season-long problems executing their offense in the fourth quarter of close games.
The Magic were 4 for 15 (26.7 percent) from the field in the final period and committed five turnovers. Arron Afflalo, who led the Magic with 19 points, had the team’s only field goal in the final six minutes.
“You can’t just be helter-skelter out there,” Afflalo said. “We’ve got to be decisive about what you want to accomplish. That comes with maturity and growth.”
“In the first half, we moved the ball a lot and were making plays,” added Tobias Harris, who scored 10 points. “We got away from that in the second half and didn’t get any defensive stops.”
Jameer Nelson had 12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for Orlando and Kyle O’Quinn added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Struggling from the perimeter nearly the entire game, Washington kept its focus in the paint in the fourth quarter. Leading 83-82 with just over four minutes to play, the Wizards scored nine straight points on two dunks, two layups and a free throw to push the lead to 10 points.
Washington erased a six-point halftime deficit when Orlando committed six turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the second half. Booker had eight points as the Wizards grabbed a 60-57 lead on Wall’s 18-foot jumper with 6:42 left in the third quarter.
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