Wizards 98 Magic 80
December 2, 2013
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Entering last night’s divisional showdown with the Orlando Magic, The Washington Wizards were on the verge of closing out one of the most daunting parts of their schedule. It was their 9th game in 14 days and 5th game in a week. Typically, these are moments when we would see previous Wizards teams fold and maybe give up in order to rest, but last night was the complete opposite. Washington dominated the Orlando Magic and spoiled a homecoming for Orlando’s Victor Oladipo who grew up nearby in Upper Marlboro, MD and was born in Silver Spring.
Trevor Ariza finished with a team and game high 24 points, John Wall finished with 16 points and 13 dimes, while Nene tallied 14. The game really swung the Wizards way late in the 2nd quarter as they finished out the first half on a 28-12 run and took an 11 point lead at the break.
After that, it was basically over. Washington came out in the second half and asserted itself on an inferior opponent as Ariza continued to knock down three after three. In fact, he nailed all four attempts he took from behind the arc. Washington built a 20 point lead and by then, it was time for Randy Wittman to call the dogs off. He rested his starters and let the second unit ride the game out. Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Eric Maynor all played at least 18 minutes and really helped slam the door on a Magic team that, quite frankly, is not very good.
With the win, Washington moves to 9-9 and are .500 for the first time since the 09-10 season. They also move to 2nd place in their division and are now 3rd place (!!!) in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, go ahead and give yourselves a round of applause, fellas.
MVP: Trevor Ariza – 24 points, 8-9 FG (4-4 3-PT), 6 rebounds
It’s a pretty obvious choice here. Ariza was on fire. We all know Ariza can be one of the best defenders in the league, but he’s really stepped his offensive game up all season. He’s been one of the best shooters on the team and it’s getting to the point where you can start to call him “automatic” from 3-point range (he’s shooting a whopping 43% from downtown this season). On a night where Washington needed to rest some of their starters and put a team away early, Ariza lifted the team with his play in the 2nd and 3rd quarter to basically seal the deal the Wizards.
LVP: Eric Maynor – 2 points, 1-4 FG in 18 minutes
Ok, I’m not really expecting much offensive production from back up point guards, but this is getting ridiculous. #MaynorTime is making me beg for the days of Shelvin Mack and A.J. Price. Hell, I’d even settle for Janero Pargo at this point. 2 points in 18 minutes? Please tell us what exactly it is you do here Mr. Maynor.
Key stat of the game: – Wizards 9-13 3-PT
Washington went 9-for-13 from 3-point land to Orlando’s 3-for-15. Just in case you’re wondering about the math, that’s 69% to 20%. Ariza was made all four attempts from 3 and it ultimately was the difference in how Washington was able to pull away. Clutch 3’s at pivotal times, especially in the 2nd half, stopped any threat Orlando would make to cut the lead down.
Tweet of the night:
It’s been a long time comin’…
— Trevor Jackson (@tjackson85) December 3, 2013
The Wiz Kids are off until Friday when Milwuakee visits Verizon Center. Don’t be fooled by their record. Even though they’re not that great on paper, this is a Bucks team that always plays Washington tough. As you may recall, they took the Wizards into OT at the Bradley Center before Washington prevailed for a 100-92 win behind Marcin Gortat’s 25 points and 11-for-12 shooting performance. The Wizards may also get Otto Porter in to the lineup for the first time all season as the injury bug has hit him since the early days of the Vegas Summer League.
The Wizards have won seven of their last nine games and can now enjoy a few nights off before Friday. Looking ahead, Washington has 10 games left this month and only two of them (Denver and L.A. Clippers) have records over .500. With games coming up against Brooklyn, New York, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Detroit, this is the perfect time for Washington to try and pad on their record. With the East being significantly weaker than the West and a lot of teams still looking to find their proverbial groove, Washington is arguably playing some of the best basketball in their conference. The Wiz kids are also very optimistic about Otto Porter, Jr being able to make his NBA debut as early as this Friday and look to get Bradley Beal back from injury not too long after. Things are starting to shape up nicely for this Washington basketball team. If they keep it up, god forbid ESPN might have to broadcast a Wizards game or two. Perhaps, naturally, against the Miami Lebrons.