ORLANDO, Fla. — The Washington Wizards spent the preseason getting a feel for the new high-scoring, breakneck pace on offense that coach Randy Wittman wants to be their calling card.
One game into the new season, it’s clearly a work in progress.
John Wall hit a floater with 12.7 seconds to play and the Washington Wizards rallied to defeat the Orlando Magic, 88-87, on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 24 points, followed by Wall, who had 22 points and five blocks.
“We have a new system. For the first game it was really good, but we still have a lot of things we need to work on,” Beal said. “But, we’re 1-0. We just want to continue to stay the course.”
The Magic had a chance to win in the closing seconds, but Nik Vucevic’s jumper bounced off the rim as time expired.
Orlando built an eight-point lead early on the fourth quarter before a 12-0 spurt by the Wizards erased it. A 3-pointer by rookie Mario Hezonja and dunk by Tobias Harris capped a 9-0 response that put the Magic back on top, 87-82, with less than two minutes to play.
Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Harris added 15 points.
Building on the blueprint that saw them average a league-high 112 points per game during the preseason, the Wizards kept the pace frenetic in the first half.
The results were mixed.
Washington connected on six of its first nine shots, but the Magic absorbed the spurt and generally were able to match the Wizards’ energy level in the second half.
“We’ve got to get in better shape to play at that pace. It’s a process. It’s different,” Wittman said. “We didn’t play that way the last couple years, so … this is game one. We’ve just got to keep working at it.”
The game slowed down in the second half as both teams relied more on half-court sets.
The Wizards survived despite going just 15-for-25 from the free throw line.
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