Injury-Plagued Wizards Fall to Magic 123-89
Despite missing centerpiece Bradley Beal and other key players such as Thomas Bryant, Davis Bertans, and rookie Rui Hachimura, the Wizards have managed to pull out impressive wins over the far superior Celtics and Nuggets this past week. Players such as Ish Smith and Jordan McRae have stepped up and had unexpected all-star level performances. Yesterday, the Wizards fell back down to earth, losing to the Orlando Magic 123-89.
The Wizards started the game strong, even gaining a lead with about five minutes remaining before halftime. The last five minutes of the half proved to be the turning point for the Magic, who ended the half up 17 points and never looked back. The Wizards showed signs of life in the third quarter, cutting the lead from 30 to 20, but the Magic never allowed Washington within real striking distance.
Nikola Vucevic led the Magic offensively with 29 points and 9 rebounds. Wizards big men Ian Mahinmi and Anzejs Pasecniks both seemed unable to handle Vucevic down low, as he scored with ease from the block throughout the game. Evan Fournier was another important contributor for Orlando, scoring 19 points on efficient 7/10 shooting from the field and 4/7 from three-point range. Markelle Fultz was Orlando’s leading passer, dishing out seven assists.
Orlando’s dominance over Washington is beginning to look like a pattern this season. With this loss, the Wizards fall to 0-4 on the season versus the Magic.
While wins over good teams can boost morale for a rebuilding team such as the Wizards, player development remains the focus of the season. Perhaps the most important aspect of this otherwise meaningless rout in the eyes of Washington’s front office was the performance of rookie and two-way G-league player Admiral Schofield. Schofield scored a career-high 18 points on efficient 8/13 shooting and pulled down six rebounds.
On Friday, the Wizards face the Hawks at home, looking to control young star Trae Young. The Hawks hold the NBA’s worst record at 8-30, but the Wizards cannot take any win for granted while Wizards’ star Bradley Beal is sidelined with injury.