Final Score: Wizards 96 Magic 86 Like the last two games, the Wizards went down big early. This time the script was different though, as they turned it around with an inspired second half of play to get the win in Orlando. The win gave the Wizards the season series sweep over the Magic. The fourth quarter was back and forth the whole way until the Wizards went on a late 9-0 run, sparked by an Otto Porter putback, to seal the game away. The fourth quarter in general saw the Wizards fight with desperation and they dominated the Magic, winning the quarter by 13. The Wizards once again struggled in a big way from long distance, going just 2/19 (Beal had both threes), but made their living at the free throw line, getting their 33 times and making 24. The Bobcats had a huge advantage on the boards early, but the Wizards came back to actually win the rebounding battle.
Nene, in just his second game back from injury, showed little rust, leading the Wizards with 17 points on 7/11 shooting. Wall had 12 assists and committed just one turnover and added ten points. Beal added 16 and was a game-high +26. Both Porter and Harrington came off the bench and just missed double-doubles with nine points and nine boards. Those numbers were career-high for Porter. Finally Trevor Booker played another game with big energy, scoring 14 points on 7/10 shooting and threw in a monster block late for good measure.
Aaron Afflalo led all scorers with 19 points in the loss for Orlando. Jameer Nelson nearly had a triple-double with 12 points, 11 assists and seven boards.
With the Celtics holding off the Bobcats, the Wizards are back in the sixth seed and now control their own destiny for that spot. They'll next take on the Bucks Saturday night at Verizon Center. - Jacob Raim
It was just about one month ago when we left Orlando with a dramatic, come-from-behind overtime victory over these Magic. The drama came late in that one, as John Wall carried the Wiz at the end of regulation with a couple of huge 3's and then it was Bradley Beal in overtime who came up with the play of the game; a chasedown block of Jameer Nelson that ended up being a five point swing as Trevor Ariza drilled a 3 on the other end. That play may have changed the game, but the rest of the team had to finish the game without Beal, as he went down with an ankle sprain and had to be helped off. He wouldn't miss any additional games, but it was scary at the time.
Fast forward four weeks later and we're right back at Amway Center, now having already clinched a playoff berth, but battling for the six seed with the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Cats overtook that spot when they beat the Wizards, 94-88, on Wednesday night. A loss that could end up costing the Wizards the six seed in the East. The Bobcats now own the tie-breaker, but the two teams are tied, so all the Wizards can do is focus on winning these last four and hope the Cats will drop one.
But, Randy Wittman won't let the seeding narrative be what drives his team down the stretch. He just wants them to get back to playing solid basketball on both ends of the court for 48 minutes. The team has showed it at times, but it's been the inconsistencies that have been a cause for concern. Heading into the playoffs, they'll want to be playing at their best and they have four games to do that.
More from Wittman
What Witt did talk about was the luxury of having Nene back in the lineup, which opens things up for the Wizards. He'll remain on a minutes limit, but having his skill set available, even off the bench, will certainly give the Wizards a much needed boost in this last week.
Casey talked with Nene this morning at shootaround for an update:
Tonight, the Wizards will look for the season sweep of Orlando for the first time since their inaugural season in 1989-90. This is a young Magic team that is playing carefree and just beat the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. There's no question they can be dangerous and they play much better at home (Home: 19-20) (Road: 4-35).
We'll be chatting live from Orlando at 7pm tonight so come join the conversation on WashingtonWizards.com.