In the first game of a five game homestand, the Washington Wizards got off to a solid start. They beat the visiting Orlando Magic 117-109, it was a back and forth affair from the start. Jeff Green and John Wall combined to score 19 points in the fourth quarter to lead Washington past Orlando. Wall had 25 points, 10 assists and a huge block that came late in the game. Green continued his stretch of good play, scoring 18 points and pulling down six rebounds. The Magic were led by Terrence Ross and his 21 points off the bench, Evan Fournier chipped in with 20 points as well. For the second consecutive game, the Wizards won the battle on the glass which led to it’s second consecutive win.
Neither team could really create separation from the other for three quarters of play. That changed in the fourth as the Wizards used a simple screen/roll involving Green and Wall to pick apart the Orlando defense. With Green having already been hot, the Magic had a decision to make. Stay with him or let Wall get downhill and John made the right decision time and time again in those situations. On one occasion it led to an open three for Green, following a stop it led to Wall finding Green with a lob pass for a vicious dunk with 6:39 left in the game. Wall played a good floor game, he also got in his bag a bit late in the fourth as well. He got into the lane after one of those screens from Green and hit a little one legged fade over Vucevic to put Washington up eight with 4:17 left.
The Magic did make a run, Orlando responded with two triples from Augustin and Fournier. Beal atones for a previous bad possession by knocking down a big three pointer. A couple of possessions later Gordon hits an acrobatic layup to cut his team’s deficit to just six. Then it happened. John Wall who had been competing on hard on the defensive end over the last two games, made a huge play by blocking a Fournier three point shot from the corner. Evan had to push John to keep him from then making the steal, that offensive foul gave Washington the ball back. The Wizards held on from that point.
Beal had a rough start to the game, but he came alive during the third quarter. He scored nine of his 21 points in the quarter, his shooting struggles didn’t keep him from hitting the glass though, pulling down eight rebounds and getting two steals.
Washington doesn’t have much time before their next game as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Obviously the Magic aren’t a top team in the East, but Beal had this to say after the game. “I do not think we can afford to look at anybody’s record right now and critic them or whatever their record may be because we are under .500.” What he said is true, Washington’s still several game under .500 so they have some work to do.
Bench: There was much to be said about the poor play of Washington’s second unit to start the season. Over the past few games Jeff Green and Austin Rivers have started to show why they were acquired this offseason. Both are starting to be comfortable with being themselves and playing their games versus trying to find how they fit. On a night where Oubre only has one point, the Wizards still got 32 points from their bench.
Wall: He’s taken some heat on the national level recently, some of it was deserved. John’s one of those people that responds to slights and challenges well for the last two games the Wizards have seen that guy with the chip on his shoulder that’s ready to compete. He’s put two good games together and has played under control and made sure that his guys are involved. Most importantly, he’s being active defensively and it’s setting the tone for the team. As always it’s about consistency, but the Wizards always have a better chance when this version of Wall is on the court.
Rebounding: This can’t be overlooked, the two times Washington has had the rebounding edge has resulted in two wins. It’s an area of emphasis for Washington. As they continue this homsestand, keep an eye on the rebounding battle as it’s a good barometer for how the team is doing.