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Magic Fall to Wizards, Lose Fourth Straight

The Orlando Magic once again lacked energy, shot the ball poorly and played very poor defense at times in a 104-97 loss to the Washington Wizards. It was Orlando’s fourth straight loss to a team with a sub .500 record and their fourth straight loss overall. The Magic were once again dominated by Antawn Jamison, who finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy

“It just gets worse, I mean it was terrible.”

The Magic came out of the gate strong on offense. They shot 56.3% and went 9-of-12 from the free throw line in the opening quarter. Vince Carter was aggressive early and hit six first quarter free throws. Dwight Howard once again picked up two first quarter fouls. However, the Magic’s defense did not match their offense in the opening period. The Wizards went 12-of-23 and the game was tied at 29 after one. The Magic were playing an excellent second quarter and got out to a nine point lead before Vince Carter went down with his shoulder injury. After Carter went down, the Magic extended the lead to 11 before seeing the Wizards quickly cut it to five at halftime.

In the third quarter, Washington was able to tie the game at 65 before the Magic went on a 16-6 run giving them an 81-71 lead with 10:38 to play. That’s when the Magic fell apart. Stan Van Gundy was not unhappy with the team until those last 10 minutes.

“We were fine until the last 10 minutes of the game and then we gave up fast breaks, second shots and didn’t have one guy on the floor that could make a shot.”

The Wizards ended the game on a 33-16 run.

The Magic didn’t get much offense out of anyone besides Dwight Howard. Howard did not shoot free throws well, going just 5-of-12 from the stripe, but he was a very efficient 9-of-13 from the field and led the Magic with 23 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, but Brendan Haywood scored 18 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 shooting from the free throw line. Haywood also outrebounded Howard, the league’s leading rebounder, by grabbing 15 boards. It appeared that Haywood outplayed Howard but after the game, Van Gundy said he “thought Dwight handled him.” Overall, Van Gundy sounded happy with Howard’s performance but said that the Magic need to get more consistency out of their key players.

“Dwight had a good offensive game. Rashard and Jameer were both down. We can’t get more than one of our four guys to do anything offensively on a given night.”

Orlando’s bench was pretty good. Redick and Pietrus had 14 points a piece while Jason Williams had 10 points. For the second consecutive game, Brandon Bass played while Ryan Anderson received a DNP-Coaches Decision. Van Gundy explained the situation.

“The matchup – quickness is a tough thing for Ryan, but I’ve got to get him back in there because our offense is better.”

Anderson absolutely needs to play. He has proven himself to be a good all-around player and an underrated rebounder. He’s averaging 9.3 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game in just 17.1 minutes per game.

Van Gundy did justify his decision to play Bass.

“Brandon had five offensive rebounds.  I thought he played hard and well. I didn’t think he was the problem. I didn’t think our bench was the problem.”

Van Gundy reiterated his point about his key guys playing well at the sametime.

“Look, our key guys, I’ve got to somehow get them to play better. They’ve got to play better. That’s how you win games. Our other guys – we’re getting okay play out of those guys. We need some consistent play night in and night out out of Jameer, Vince, Rashard and Dwight. That’s just the way it is. It’s up to me to get that. And I’m not getting it.”

Unfortunately, Van Gundy is having trouble finding answers.

“I’ve tried to change the play calling to where we have a more even shot distribution, which were getting. We’ve got guys struggling. I just don’t have the answer right now.”

The Wizards absolutely dominated the Magic on the boards, grabbing 55 to Orlando’s 41. Jamison grabbed 11 boards, Haywood had 15, backup big man Andray Blatche had eight and Caron Butler had seven. Washington’s rebounding percentage was 55.1%. They grab just 49% of their rebounds on the season.

The Magic did a goob job of not turning the ball over, committing just 12 with a turnover rate of only 11.4%.

Orlando’s shooting woes continued. They made just 21.6% of their three pointers and had an effective field goal percentage of 47%. Orlando’s defense actually did a decent job against the Wizards, holding them to an even lower eFG% of 46.2%, but they dominated at the free throw line. Orlando shot just 18-of-30 (60%) from the charity stripe while the Wizards made 30 of their 34 free throw attempts (88.2%).

Antawn Jamison, who averages over 24.0 points per game in his career against the Magic, torched Orlando again. He scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Brandon Bass was no match for Jamison on defense.

Randy Foye got the start for the Wizards and was just 5-of-17, but was 8-of-8 from the stripe and scored 20 points. He also had six assists and four rebounds.

Game Notes:

  • It was Orlando’s first loss to the Wizards in their last six meeting.
  • Dwight Howard was -12 tonight.
  • Although Washington had more turnovers (16) than Orlando (12), the Wizards still score more points off of turnovers (15) than Orlando did (14).
  • Foye’s 20 points were a season high.
  • Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post has some interesting information to pass along after Friday night’s game:

“When Orlando broke its last 4-game losing streak, Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic combined to outrebound entire Bulls team, 32-31. More perspective: when ORL snapped its last 4-game streak, Bo Outlaw played 10 mins off its bench.”

Next Up: The Magic return home to host the second place Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

Final Thought: Van Gundy summed it up:

“We’re just in a bad way right now.”

For another point of view on the game, check out Bullets Forever.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)

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