- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 23, 2017

Following the embarrassment of an 119-84 loss Friday night in Brooklyn, the Wizards beat what is quickly becoming the league’s worst team, the Orlando Magic, 130-103 Saturday night. Orlando is 5-26 in its last 31 games. Its leading scorer among those not injured already, Nikola Vucevic, broke his finger when trying to post up Ian Mahinmi in the second quarter. Things in Orlando are a mess. Things in Washington are a shade brighter after an easy win Saturday night. Three points from the evening:

Skip the result of this game. The win did little to alter what’s going on. Washington is 18-15. It has not matched its expectations or those from the outside. Two of the next three games are against the league’s best teams: at Boston on Christmas Day, a reprieve against an Eastern Conference-worst Atlanta team, then Houston comes to Capital One Arena. The Wizards have had two disastrous results this season, in Utah, then at Brooklyn, surrounded by up-and-down play. They are one of the league’s worst teams “in the clutch.” They also have several underlying metrics that suggest their record should be much better. So, do they need a jolt or to stay the course? “That remains to be seen,” coach Scott Brooks said before the game Saturday. “I’m going to try to keep pushing buttons to try to figure that out. We’re a couple games over .500, it’s not like we’re having this horrible year.”

Mike Scott is still cooking. Another night, another near-perfect performance for Scott from the field. He was 7-for-8 — his lone miss rattled out — and scored 18 more points. The caveat that he was playing the Magic backups applies. However, this has been a three-week trend for Scott. He’s shooting 71.6 percent from the field since Dec. 5. He reiterated Saturday night that this is the best he is playing in his career. “Healthy, confident, work on my game a lot,” Scott said. “I just feel good. With a lot of repetition comes confidence. Just feeling good right now.”

Add another oddity to this strange season. The Wizards are now 1-4 on the front end of back-to-back games and 4-1 on the back end. It’s among the numerous strange stats around this team, even beyond the expected fluctuations of a club that isn’t far from .500. Brooks kind of shook his head at the number. “I have no explanation for the reason,” Brooks said. “I don’t know. We have to try and figure that out because we have one right around the corner on the fifth and the sixth [of January]: at Memphis and home against Milwaukee. We have to figure that out, but we really just have to focus on the next game. We have a tough one in Boston on Christmas Day, that’s going to be a fun atmosphere [and] a fun game for all of us to be a part of.”


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