Another hard fought team performance from Orlando saw the Magic take the W on the first night of the back-to-back in Washington. Running out with a 130-120 win Orlando gave it everything.
THE FIRST QUARTER
As with opening night against Miami in this match both teams were evenly matched through the quarter. Orlando again looked to play by limiting their opponents to one chance by active rebounding off the board. The starting unit were active on their defence and it allowed Orlando to transition with pace, using the drive & kick. It didn’t always produce the basket but kept Washington guessing.
Washington got Beal scoring early in the quarter and when he came on Davis Bertans shooting saw the score tick along and remain tight.
Cole Anthony had 5 early points from the bench.
The Magic efforts on Westbrook saw him finally get his first points of the game at the buzzer, seeing the quarter end level at 32-32.
Orlando had shot 59% in the quarter, but hitting only 3 of 7 from from beyond the arc. Assists were also in short supply at 4. A solid 14 points of the Magic’s 32 came in the paint. The efforts on the boards had resulted in 12 rebounds for Orlando. The active hands and pressure of both defences had resulted in turnovers being a factor, 6 for the Magic & 5 for Washington. Again the bench had contributed heavily giving 12 points.
A unit of Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams, Cole Anthony, Khem Birch and Terrence Ross began to build a lead for Orlando. They played Westbrook hard, restricting his impact. After being fouled on a 3 Ross hit the free throws to take his tally to 10 and the Magic lead out to 8.
This forced the Washington coaching staff to react and the answer was for Beal to return. Khem Birch dropped another score from an Anthony feed, Birch proving valuable with his new found offensive threat.
Having come on Raul Neto scored to cut the lead back to 4. The Magic reply was a Terrence Ross long 3, the Human Torch hadn’t missed a shot for 13 points. As the teams fought Neto was hitting his shots and again the Orlando lead was reduced back to 4.
Fultz hit free throws to get his tally to 13, then Evan Fournier hit a huge three and extended the lead to 9 with 2:51 left.
Beal was ballin’ and got to 19 points. The officials made sure the game was close with a series of ridiculous calls that resulted in a technical for Fournier from the bench. Ross finally missed a shot at the buzzer.
This high scoring game saw the score 63-59 at the half in favour of Orlando. The 63 points had come on 49% shooting from the field.
INTO THE 3RD
An early bonus for Orlando came from a Thomas Bryant throw down dunk early in the period, unfortunately for him it was through his own net!
The Washington 3 ball had kept them in the game during the first half but Orlando were now defending that area well. As the Magic got a little sloppy on both ends the Wizards tied the score at 77-77 with 6:36 to play. Coach Clifford reacted and call a timeout.
Out of that timeout came a perfect response as Dwayne Bacon hit a 3. The Orlando lead was constantly cut or tied by Washington who were rolling in the Q with Bryant and Beal. A Ross bomb from deep gave Orlando a lead again.
By the quarter end it was 92-91 to Orlando.
MORE FIGHT IN THE FINAL QUARTER ALLOWS THE MAGIC TO TAKE THE W
Having been effectively contained by Aaron Gordon and Michael Carter-Williams a hard working Russell Westbrook finally completed his 2nd triple-double of the season to give Washington a lead to open the quarter.
It was basket for basket as the 2nd units went at each other. Ross was lit getting to 22 points to tie the game 99-99. Baskets from MCW, Cole Anthony, Khem Birch and Ross in this stretch were crucial in shifting the tempo in Orlando’s favour.
At that point both AG and Beal returned to the fray and the starting units filtered back in. In what had been a quiet offensive game for Nikola Vucevic he completed his double-double with a 3 to take the score to 109-103. This was followed by a highlight lob Markelle Fultz for an Aaron Gordon dunk making the score 111-103. AG then linked with Fultz who scored his 17th point of the night.
If it was not for Bradley Beal with his 39 points the game would have been long over. With 1:35 remaining the score was 124-115 for Orlando and Fultz had been instrumental in creating that lead. Vooch had impact as well with 11 points in the quarter.
As the final buzzer sounded the score saw the Orlando Magic take the W by 10 clear points, at 130-120.
SMILE AS THE MAGIC TAKE THE W
It is worth a smile to see a 2-0 start for the first time in 8 years. Those wins have come against the Miami Heat as the defending Eastern Conference champions and the much fancied Washington Wizards. Whilst each of those teams have star power Orlando are playing for each other as a team. There is no drop from the bench unit who produced a superb 53 points last night. Cole Anthony was valuable again with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
The stats were good for Orlando. A field goal percentage of 50.5% (48-95), 35.5% from 3, almost 80% from the free throw line, 54 rebounds and 8 steals. The only fly in the ointment was the 13 turnovers but that was almost half the number of opening night. Five Magic players scored double figures but the 8 points for MCW and Birch were important for their impact. But the accolades have to go to Markelle Fultz (21 points, 7 assists 4 rebounds) and Terrence Ross with a team leading 25 points. Washington had no answer to Markelle driving into the paint last night.
WE GO AGAIN
As the Magic take the W on the first night of the back-to-back in Washington can they do it again? To start a season 3-0 would be something not done by the team since 2009-10 and would only be the 4th time in team history that they have done so.
Being a back-to-back it is game day 3 in Washington for the Orlando Magic again tonight. Tonight’s game again tips off at 12am midnight for us in the UK (7pm Eastern Time). To watch live or on demand here in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass subscription.
Finally, as I wrote yesterday in the double preview there is the possibility of both Davis Bertans and Russell Westbrook missing tonight’s game. This is due to niggling injuries that may limit participation in back-to-backs for the moment. Neither now appears on ESPN’s injury list so I have doubts as to whether either will be missing!
LET’S GO MAGIC!