A Magic 4th quarter comeback sparked Orlando to a 3-0 start on Sunday night as they faced the Washington Wizards. On the second night of a back-to-back Orlando secured a 120-113 victory.
The big news before tip off was that Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook would sit out, being rested. His absence and the presence of Raul Neto in his place proved to be a bigger test for the Magic. The Wizards were one of the most prolific scoring teams in the NBA last season and without Westbrook in the lineup it was a difficult adjustment for Orlando.
The Magic starters struggled for much of the night as the Wizards came out from the opening tip with a lot more energy. Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon combined for just 19 points as energetic big man Thomas Bryant caused them problems in the paint.
TAKING A HALF TIME LEAD
Orlando responded to Washington’s 35 point opening quarter with 33 points in the 2nd to take a 2 point lead in at the half.
The bench unit of Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Terrence Ross, Chuma Okeke and Khem Birch helped cut into the Wizards double digit lead. Terrence Ross made his first three 3-pointers as well as getting to the free throw line, something that helped keep Orlando in the game.
A LETHARGIC THIRD Q
The starters looked lethargic coming out for the 2nd half too. The Wizards lead ballooned up to 17. The Magic struggled shooting from the field but got themselves to the free throw line to reduce the deficit.
Like the first half, the bench unit sparked another run with a couple of buckets from Carter-Williams and Cole Anthony drawing a charge to give Orlando life. Trailing by 17 going into the 4th quarter, the Wizards began to fall apart as the Magic began to make shots.
The starters returned and Markelle Fultz began to takeover yet again.
Fultz got himself into the teeth of the defence, making some important shots down the stretch as part of his career night, finishing with 26 points. A late run by Washington saw the Magic surrender the lead for a couple of minutes, but the Magic got themselves to the line and MCW’s defence on Beal late in the game gave the Magic another impressive win.
The Magic 4th quarter comeback saw a final score of 120-113.
WHAT IT MEANS
It’s just the 4th time the Magic have started a season 3-0, the last time was 2009/10.
A win against Oklahoma City on Tuesday night would be the first time in franchise history the team will have started 4-0.