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The Wizards offense started coming behind John Wall and Trevor Ariza. And it just would not stop.
Even with the Wizards struggling to stop the Magic themselves, they had the weapons and the ability to keep the Magic at bay. The burned off five unanswered points before the end of the first half and opened up a double-digit lead early in the second half.
Washington let Orlando back into the game at various point, but never really felt threatened. The Magic got it as close as six points in the third quarter, but Marcin Gortat hit a tough bank shot to give the Wizards the lead back. The Magic's last run ended when Trevor Ariza crossed up Doron Lamb and got himself an open shot along the baseline. Gortat drew a charge and the Wizards offense did the rest for a 115-106 win over the Magic at Verizon Center on Tuesday.
John Wall was simply unstoppable scoring 27 points on 11-for-19 shooting. He dished out seven assists. But it was the other players that plut this game out of reach. Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Trevor Ariza scored 22 points and made all five of his 3-point attempts. Bradley Beal had 21 points for Washington.
The Wizards shot 52.5 percent from the floor and 10 of 16 from beyond the arc.
The Magic had some positives offensively tonight from several players however:
Signs of light offensively
It took Victor Oladipo a half to get himself going offensively, but he has the green light to keep shooting and work himself through those mistakes. He did that in the second half as he scored 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting in the final 24 minutes, finishing with 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting. Oladipo found his rhythm and was extremely confident shooting the ball at the end of this game.
He was not the only one who was finding the bottom of the hole with some ease. Orlando shot 50.0 percent from the floor. Offense was not the problem.
Vucevic matched Gortat almost point-for-point, putting in some aggressive play from the post to pace the Magic early on. He had 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Maurice Harkless was the star though for the Magic. He was aggressive and able to move without the ball to generate offense. Harkless had his season-high with 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He was aggressive and able to get where he wanted on the floor. It was encouraging to see from Harkless.
Defense and turnovers still matter
But shooting 50 percent from the floor and getting good performances from several young players is not enough. The Magic needed the defense to provide some support. With each run came a back-breaking shot. While the Magic offense continued to cut into the lead and prevent Washington from pulling away, Washington was able to answer because Orlando could put up little resistance.
The Magic were consistently beaten off the dribble and forced to rotate. Some of the rotations were slow. That went double after the the Wizards were able to rotate the ball back to the perimeter for 3-point shots. As noted previously, the Wizards shot 52 percent from the floor and 10 for 16 from beyond the arc.
So even as Orlando was capable of scoring with Washington, Orlando's own mistakes took the wind out of those sails.
The Magic committed 17 turnovers which turned into 23 points for the Wizards. Jameer Nelson had six of those turnovers as he struggled against John Wall in just about every capacity. The Wizards had 13 fast break points and the Magic had none.
That was just a lot to overcome and a sign that the Magic's defense was not anywhere near par.
With Arron Afflalo out, the Magic have needed a little bit more from Jameer Nelson to help boost the team on both ends of the floor. And Nelson has failed to deliver.
He committed six turnovers and made just two of his eight shots for six points. He was the big weak link in the Magic lineup. That is simply something the Magic never want to say considering the youth that dots this roster. Nelson has to be the rock.
He just is not doing that now.
In his last 10 games, Nelson is averaging 6.7 points per game and shooting just 32.1 percent from the floor. It just has not been pretty for Nelson lately.
Overall, he should be a net positive on the floor. But his defense has never been something that an make up for any offensive shortcomings.
Good analysis, but a little bit harsh on Jameer.. I think you're perhaps expecting a lot more from him than reality would suggest.. Obviously this season is about rebuilding the franchise and developing the young core into a sustainable team long-term.. Therefore the implications of this season require Jameer's input to be less a "provider" and more of a "contributor", "distributor" and "locker room leader", anything more is a bonus..
Personally I think he has provided a calm and steadying influence on offence throughout the season and continues to assist in Oladipo's growth as a PG...