- Associated Press - Friday, November 25, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - John Wall put up big numbers against the Orlando Magic, but coach Scott Brooks never mentioned them in discussing his team’s third win in four games.

Brooks was all about the Wizards’ defense, especially early in the first quarter when they ran off to a 19-point lead.

Wall had 26 points and 10 assists, and scored the Wizards’ final eight after they blew that big lead to help Washington to a 94-91 victory on Friday night.

“Defense won this game for us,” Brooks said. “John set the tone defensively for us in the first quarter. His pressure on the ball and keeping (Elfrid) Payton out of the paint . he just did a good job of orchestrating our team.”

Otto Porter Jr. scored 19 points and Bradley Beal had 14 as all five Washington starters scored in double figures.

However, the Wizards needed their defense - and Wall - in the final six minutes after Orlando went up 83-79 on a 3-pointer from reserve point guard D.J. Augustin.

“I told everybody, ‘Hey, let’s calm down,’” Beal said. “They went on their little run, but the game is about momentum and what turned it around was we got stops and convert. If we realize defense is going to win us games, we’re going to be a good team.”

Washington got stops on the next five possessions and went on a 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Porter and back-to-back layups from Marcin Gortat, who also had nine rebounds.

Wall kept the Magic at bay in the last 2 minutes with a driving layup, a three-point play and 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line.

Serge Ibaka led Orlando with 19 points, while Nikola Vucevic contributed 17 points and 17 rebounds. Payton scored 15, all in the second half, and Evan Fournier had 11 as Orlando lost its third straight.

Orlando used its defense to fuel the comeback from a 26-7 first-quarter deficit. The Magic didn’t let the Wizards inside the paint without a fight and had a hand in the face of nearly every Washington perimeter shooter.

Augustin made a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer that gave Orlando an 83-79 advantage with 5:47 left in the game.

Washington quickly regained the lead and though Orlando cut the deficit to one on two occasions, the Wizards made the lead stand up the rest of the game.

“I was disappointed in our guys that got us down, but to their credit we battled back and made it a game,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “We showed good competitive spirit, but you can’t get down 19.”

TIP-INS

Wizards: Washington has won 13 of its last 14 games against Orlando. . The Wizards bench contributed just 12 points and nine rebounds. . This was the 36th time a game between the teams was decided by five points or less. Washington is 19-17 in those games.

MAGIC: Starters Payton and Jeff Green didn’t score in the first half and played only 16 minutes between them. Green had seven points. . Orlando had 15 turnovers in the first half, but only four the rest of the game. … Fournier has scored in double figures in 15 of 16 games this season. . During the last eight games, the Magic have limited opponents to just 92.5 points and 41.7 percent shooting.

TURNAROUND TIME

The Wizards have won three of their last four, after starting the season 2-8. “We’ve improved from week to week,” Brooks said. “Sometimes your record doesn’t indicate that, but I know we’re a better team. I like where we’re going.”

LONG DROUGHT

The Magic are last in the NBA in scoring (91.9 ppg) and last in shooting percentage (40.7), but it’s not for lack of good shots, Vogel said. “There have been plenty of what I call ‘no payoff, good possessions,’” Vogel said. “We miss a layup at the rim or an open 3 on the perimeter. Just too many dry possessions for my liking.”

UP NEXT:

Wizards: Return home to play San Antonio on Saturday. It’s the first of four straight games against Western Conference teams.

Magic: Host Milwaukee on Sunday. The Bucks beat the Magic 93-89 last Monday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide