The Wall-less Wizards come up short in the fourth quarter, lose 88-86.

Down 88-86 with the ball, Coach Scott Brooks drew up a tremendous play to get Markieff Morris wide open for a three-point attempt. Unfortunately, it didn’t fall as the Wizards lose, 88-86.

Wizards killer Jeff Green led the Magic with 18 points off of the bench. Markieff Morris was the high-scorer for the Wizards also with 18 points. The Wizards looked and played like a different team tonight without John Wall who was resting for precautionary reasons.

After finding themselves in a quick 6-0 hole, the Wizards dug themselves out by shooting 45.5 percent in the first quarter to take a 24-20 lead. Morris was a key contributor especially as he was the lone starter playing alongside the reserves. Morris hit several tough shots in the second quarter as the Wizards opened this game up with an 11-0 run and led at halftime, 50-40.

Andrew Nicholson, in a homecoming game against his former team, was a pit bull in the paint with three offensive rebounds and putbacks in the lane. The Wizards entered the fourth quarter up 70-61 and it looked like it could be smooth sailing.

That’s when the Wizards went ice cold. The Wizards hit just five field goals in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 88-86 in the period.

The loss drops the Wizards to 1-4 and it doesn’t get any easier next week as their next three games are against Houston, Boston, Cleveland, and Chicago.

Three Things:

The stage wasn’t too big for Satoransky:

Tomas Satoransky received his first NBA start tonight as the Wizards rested John Wall for precautionary reasons coming off of his double knee surgery. Satoransky scored eight points to go along with three assists, and two rebounds. He looked comfortable running the pick-and-roll with Gortat, made the right pass, and didn’t turn the ball over. Satoransky also hit a few floaters in the lane; something we haven’t seen from him before. Expect Satoransky to shift into the backup point guard role sooner rather than later.

Another quiet yet solid game from Otto Porter:

Otto Porter notched another double-double tonight with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Per usual, Otto was cutting through the lane and crashing the offensive glass. He hit his first two, three-pointers of the season as well tonight which was a nice thing to see.

In games where Wall doesn’t play, it’s imperative that Porter gets involved. The coaching staff seldom runs plays for Otto and when they do, he often checks his feet before shooting the ball which results in a miss. The Wizards are going to need more than 10 points from Porter.

The John Wall Effect:

The Wizards only had 11 assists in this game. It’s not unusual for John Wall to log 11 assists on his own. Too often, players were stuck playing 1-on-1 which allowed the Magic to collapse the paint on defense. It’s unclear how long Wall will continue to sit out the second half off back-to-backs but one thing is clear; this team needs him on the court.

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A way too early ranking of the Eastern Conference

Last week we took a look at how the teams stack up early in the Southeast Division.

Now let’s see how the entire Eastern Conference stacks up now that free agency is in the rearview mirror.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs just won the championship. Cleveland just re-signed LeBron James to a three-year deal. Not much else to discuss here. Let’s keep moving.

2. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are here by default. After making their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in team history, the Raptors are looking to build on that momentum to carry them even further. They re-signed All-Star DeMar DeRozan to a five-year $145 million dollar year to keep the dynamic backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan intact.

Bismack Biyombo played out of his mind during the playoffs earning him a large payday but with the Orlando Magic. Many think that Biyombo’s departure could potentially set the Raptors back. I disagree. Biyombo is a backup center and a rim protector. He averaged 5.5 points and eight rebounds during the regular season but those numbers jumped 6.2 points and 9.4 rebounds during the postseason. Biyombo is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end but is very limited on the offensive end. He’s a classic energy guy who happened to explode on a national stage at the right time. Yes, they’ll miss his defensive presence and shot-blocking; it’s just, I don’t think that’s enough to set the entire team back.

The Raptors replaced Biyombo with the acquisition of Jared Sullinger. As a starter last season, Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Celtics. However this year, he’s expected to come off of the bench for the Raptors. Sullinger’s playing style is the opposite of Biyombo. Sullinger is shorter in stature but throws his weight around to gain position in the paint. Sullinger can stretch the floor and is effective in doing so as he shot 44.1 percent from shots 5-9 feet from the basket and 44.9 percent on shots 20-24 feet from the hoop.

He isn’t a great three-point shooter but is capable of knocking them down as he shot a modest 28.2 percent from distance last season which is better than most centers.

The Raptors did what they had to do to stay at the top of the Eastern Conference. They may not scare Cleveland, but keeping DeRozan and other key players intact will make them a force to be reckoned with next season.

3. Boston Celtics

The Celtics return four of their five starters from last season. They upgraded at the center position in acquiring Al Horford to fill the void left by Jared Sullinger. Although Horford is 30 years old, the former All-Star is an instant upgrade over Sullinger as he averaged more points (15.2), shot better from the field (50.5 percent), and shot better from three-point range (34.4 percent).

Plug in rookie Jaylen Brown and now the Celtics have another long wing to go alongside Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, and Gerald Green.

Additionally, according to ESPN.com, the Celtics are projected to have the easiest schedule in the league next season.

This team still lacks an “alpha dog” as I don’t believe Isaiah Thomas has reached that level yet. However, they still have a very good roster and one of the top coaches in the NBA. The arrow continues to point up for this team.

4. Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers didn’t get much publicity but positioned themselves very well for next season. The Pacers upgraded at point guard acquiring Indianapolis native Jeff Teague from the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team trade. Teague and Hill shot almost identical shooting percentages from three-point range and from the field, however,Teague averaged more points (15.7) and assists (5.9).

Us Wizards fans know that Ian Mahinmi is now gone from the Pacers. The Pacers seem very pleased and confident to move forward with second-year player Myles Turner at center and they also signed a Swiss Army Knife player in Thaddeus Young.

The Pacers secured up the center position with Al Jefferson and it’s very clear that Paul George is back to his superstar ways. The Pacers do have a new coach in Nate McMillan to get used to, however; this team looks poised to take a step forward after getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

5. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons bring back essentially the same roster that they had last season after re-signing All-Star center Andre Drummond. In somewhat of an under the radar move, the Pistons acquired Boban Marjanovic from the Spurs to play the backup center position. He is still somewhat of an unknown as he didn’t get too much playing time in San Antonio, however, he’s coming from the best culture in the NBA and will practice against one of the best centers in the NBA in Andre Drummond.

Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris will now have the entire offseason to get acclimated with the team rather than learning on the fly in just 30 games prior to the postseason. The Pistons have a nice core of players and young guys such as Stanley Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who should continue to get better with time.

Expect a big step forward from the Pistons this season.

6. Charlotte Hornets

The losses of Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee sting; No doubt about it. But as Kemba Walker enters his sixth NBA season, I feel that he’s on the verge of a breakout year. Walker scored a career-best 20.9 points last season. After getting snubbed from the All-Star game, Walkers’ numbers ballooned to 25.2 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.6 rebounds in the three weeks afterward. Walker has had his superstar moments evidenced by his 52-point game against the Jazz last season. We’ve seen Walker perform at All-Star levels in stretches; now’s the time where he does it for an entire season.

Outside of Walker, the Hornets kept many key guys intact by re-signing Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still around along with young, fresher guys in Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Jeremy Lamb to round out the roster. That’s enough to make the Hornets the early favorites to win the Southeast division.

7. Washington Wizards

The Wizards return their starting five (after the All-Star game) from last season. The big X-factor this season will be Bradley Beal. Will he stay healthy? That’s the $128 million dollar question. Although he feels his injury woes are behind him, the elephant in the room will remain until Beal proves that he can stay healthy as the four-year player averages just 62 games played per season in his short four-year career.

Another uncertainty for the Wizards is Otto Porter’s development. He has continued to develop over the past three seasons, however if the Wizards are going to be relevant in the playoff race again, they’ll need Porter to take yet another step forward. He needs to continue to increase his scoring as the front office is all in on him and Kelly Oubre at the small forward position.

John Wall on the mend from knee surgery and Bradley Beal’s health are a constant question mark, so if Porter can take on more of a scoring load for this team early; that will pay dividends down the road.

8. Miami Heat

Let me preface this by saying this ranking assumes Chris Bosh DOESN’T play next season.

The Heat lost key players in Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Joe Johnson to free agency. That hurts. The team will now be counting on Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and up and comer Justice Winslow to carry the torch for this team.

The Heat should be just fine defensively as Eric Spoelstra is known for his defensive schemes however the offense is another question. Hassan Whiteside is limited offensively, the team replaced Wade with Dion Waiters, but will count on Goran Dragic to carry the scoring load. Dragic has averaged 20 points for a season just once in his career and if the Heat are going to be competitive this year, he’ll need to do that again.

The wildcard here is Chris Bosh. As mentioned, Bosh has been dealing with blood clots over the past two years causing him to miss 67 games over the past two seasons. If Bosh is cleared to play and can stay healthy, that should be enough for the Heat to make the playoffs. If he can’t, the Heat will probably be on the outside looking in.

9. Chicago Bulls

Will the Bulls make any three-pointers next year? It can be assumed that Rondo, Wade, and Butler will be starting at the point guard, shooting guard, and small forward positions. None of them shoot threes very well. That leaves Nikola Mirotic, the team’s power forward, as the Bulls’ best three-point option.

10. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks lost Jeff Teague and Al Horford in the offseason. Yes, they signed Dwight Howard but he has proven that he’s not the easiest teammate to play with. In addition, Dennis Schroder will now be counted on to lead this team. There’re too many unknowns right now. Expect the Hawks to fall out of the playoffs.

11. New York Knicks

Derrick Rose was right. The Knicks did form a “Super-Team”…… if the year was 2011. The Knicks should have an improved record now that there’s more talent surrounding Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s just the players they signed in Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee are injury prone or are already past their prime.

12. Milwaukee Bucks

I thought the Bucks would break out last year but they didn’t. They have youth, size, athleticism, and a good coach (so we think). They fooled me last year. Now I need to see the improvement to believe it.

13. Orlando Magic

The Magic added size and athleticism in the offseason. Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka are good players; however, scoring is not their strong suit. Scoring for this team will be difficult.

14. Philadelphia 76ers

They went 10-72 last season and drafted the preseason favorite for rookie of the year in Ben Simmons. Can only go up from here, right?

15. Brooklyn Nets

Close your eyes Nets’ fans.

A Way Too Early Ranking of the Southeast Division

When the clock struck midnight on July 1, 2016, we were introduced to a new era of NBA Free Agency. Players deservingly, and some undeservingly, signed eight and nine figure deals with the new salary cap skyrocketing making it feel like a frantic scene out of Wolf of Wall Street rather than your standard free agency period.

Now that the storm has passed and all of the major signings are complete, lets look at how the teams stack up in the Southeast Division. And specifically, do the Wizards have a shot at winning the division this season with their new acquisitions?

1. Charlotte Hornets

Key Signings – Nicolas Batum (Re-signed), Marvin Williams (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Jeremy Lin, Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee

Jeremy Lin had arguably his best and most consistent season since his “Linsanity” season in 2012 as he averaged 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists coming off of the bench. Those numbers soared to 17.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in his 13 games as a starter. After playing in just 28 games with the Hornets, Courtney Lee opted to walk and sign with the Knicks this offseason. His numbers won’t blow you away however Lee averaged 8.9 points on 44.5 percent shooting in his brief Charlotte stint. He is a solid 3-D guy who defends the perimeter well and can score without his number being called a ton. The Hornets will miss this duo however they seem confident some combination of Walker, Lamb, Sessions, and Roberts will be able to fill the void left by Lin and Lee.

With that said, the Hornets kept their key players of Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist intact while they continue to groom their younger guys in Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lamb, and Frank Kaminsky. Couple that as they now have serviceable veterans such as Brian Roberts and Ramon Sessions. Suddenly, the Hornets have a stable of guards that they can mix and match based on the flow of the game.

The Hornets were the seventh best three-pointing shooting team in the NBA connecting 36.2 percent of their three pointers last season. Don’t expect that to change much as three of their top three-point shooters in Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams, and Frank Kaminsky all return.

Lastly, Kemba Walker is due for a breakout season. He averaged 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists last season and had moments of super-stardom highlighted by a 52 point outburst against the Jazz last season. It’s been documented that Walker has a chip on his shoulder after being snubbed from last year’s All-Star game and is on the verge of breaking out as one of the top guards in the NBA. Don’t be surprised if it happens as he enters his sixth NBA season. 

The Hornets went 48-34 last season earning them the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Expect them to build on that momentum. No Crying Jordan meme here.

2. Miami Heat

Key Signings – Hassan Whiteside (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson

Outside of the Hawks (which we’ll get to later), the Heat took the second biggest hit in free agency losing a once-thought face-of-the-franchise player in Dwayne Wade as well as key guys in Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. With that said, the Heat still have a very solid core intact with Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, and second-year player Justise Winslow.

The wildcard here is Chris Bosh. He has experienced blood clots over the past two seasons that have limited him to playing in just 44 and 53 games respectively. If Bosh is cleared medically to play, that’s enough to bump the Heat up to the #1 spot as the team to beat in the Southeastern Division.

The Heat will still be a team to be reckoned with out east and should comfortably make the playoffs. It’s just hard to downplay losing a player that was once the face of the franchise and potentially losing Bosh for parts if not all of the season.

3. Washington Wizards

Key Signings – Bradley Beal (Re-signed), Ian Mahinmi

Key Losses – Jared Dudley, Garrett Temple, Nene

Like the Hornets, the Wizards kept their core intact by signing Bradley Beal and keeping all five members of their starting five. In addition, the Wizards got a bit younger and more athletic off the bench by adding Andrew Nicholson and Ian Mahinmi.

The main question is, how will this team adapt to their third system in as many years while welcoming a new coaching staff? Mainly, will they buy in on the defensive end? It’s no secret that the Wizards fell off last season, finishing 13th in Defensive Efficiency.

The Wizards also allowed their opponents to shoot 46.2 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range; ranking them in the bottom third of the league. Clearly, the Wizards must buy in on the defensive end if they are going to put this past season’s failures in the rearview mirror.

Obviously they can’t control this, but the injury bug hit the Wizards hard last season. Bradley Beal played in just 55 games this past season while Kris Humphries, Gary Neal, and Alan Anderson; guys thought to be key contributors to the team appeared in just 28, 40, and 13 games respectively.

It’s clear that the Wizards needed a new voice as the team began zoning out Randy Wittman midway through the season. If the Wizards buy in on the defensive end and can stay relatively healthy, there’s no reason why they can’t jump ahead of Charlotte and Miami and shoot up to the top spot in the wide-open Southeastern Division.

4. Atlanta Hawks

Key Signings – Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore (Re-signed)

Key Losses – Al Horford, Jeff Teague

Of all of the teams in the Southeast Division and maybe even the Eastern Conference, I think the Hawks will take the biggest step back this year. This offseason, arguably their two best players in Al Horford and Jeff Teague left the team for greener pastures. The team responded by handing the keys over Dennis Schröder and acquiring the often disgruntled Dwight Howard.

Although still effective, key players such as Paul Milsap and Kyle Korver are getting older. Korver played in 80 games last season but averaged just 9.2 points per game and shot 39.9 percent from three-point range; his lowest outputs since arriving in Atlanta. Outside of Korver, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jarrett Jack round out the team’s guard depth. If the younger Hardaway Jr. can take over some of the scoring load, then that could potentially soften the blow for the Hawks, who finished 18th in Offensive Efficiency last season.

At the power forward position, things are even worse. Outside of Millsap, Kris Humphries and Mike Muscala are the only other power forwards on the roster. That’s a significant drop off from the starter to reserve spot.

On top of all that, the Hawks will now be counting on Kent Bazemore to carry the load offensively with his new 4-year $70 million dollar a year deal. That puts enormous pressure on a guy who was the fourth or fifth option on offense last year and averaged just 11.6 points per game.

The Hawks are trying to replace two of their best players, plug in a player who isn’t the easiest to get along with, and are counting on a new guy to carry the torch for this franchise moving forward. I can’t see all of that coming together in one year.

Expect a drop-off from the Hawks and don’t be surprised if they miss the playoffs altogether.

5. Orlando Magic

Key Signings – Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Evan Fournier (Re-signed), Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin

Key Losses – Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson.

The Magic lost arguably their best player and once thought, face-of-the-franchise player in Victor Oladipo in a trade to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka. The dynamic Oladipo averaged 16 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists last year for the Magic but he never seemed to jell with Elfrid Payton. Evan Fournier will be plugged in to fill that scoring void. 

I’m in the camp that feels Serge Ibaka’s stats were inflated because he was playing alongside two All-Stars for the beginning of his career. Now, he’ll be counted on to take on more of a leadership role as he’s entering his eighth season. Ibaka averaged 12.6 points this past season, his lowest since 2012. Ibaka will definitely get more shots now that he’s not playing alongside Durant and Westbrook however the defense will be paying more attention to him too. Ibaka can’t disappear like he did during the San Antonio series if the Magic are going to take the next step.

Bismack Biyombo’s stock was sky-high once he was inserted into the starting lineup of the Miami series when Jonas Valanciunas went down with injury. Biyombo averaged 6.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during the Miami series and that increased during the Eastern Conference Finals where he averaged 6.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, to go along with 1.8 blocks.

He cashed in and rightfully so. Only thing is, he’s not a scorer and it’s likely that he’ll be frequently paired up with Aaron Gordon. Both are athletic and good rebounders but neither of the big guys flourishes on the offensive end unless it’s a dunk. As a result, I don’t see the Biyombo signing having a significant impact on this team.

The Jeff Green signing doesn’t make a ton of sense as the oft-injured player is currently the only true small forward on the roster and will likely be forced into the starting five at some point or another. To salvage the somewhat head-scratching deal, the Magic signed the quick and speedy D.J. Augustin to play the backup point guard position on a relatively cheap deal, though he won’t move the needle much.

The Magic are heading in the right direction. They are signing young and effective players while still keeping most of their key guys around. On top of that, they hired Frank Vogel. Just like the Hawks, the Magic will be plugging in new guys in key roles on top of getting used to a new coaching staff.

The arrow is pointing up for this team; I just think they’re still a year or two away from making the playoffs.

Final Score Wiz at Magic: 105-99, Wiz Sweep Season Series

If only the Wizards could play the Magic every night.

The Wizards beat the Magic 105-99 sweeping the season series as the Wizards get back in the win column. Six Wizards players scored in double figures tonight led by John Wall with a game-high 24, Jared Dudley, Otto Porter, and Gary Nealwith 16 apiece, and Marcin Gortat and Garrett Temple chipping in with 12 and 11 points respectively.

The Wizards started out hot from the field shooting 58 percent in the first quarter and really looked engaged on the defensive end forcing six steals early.

The confidence that the Wizards have when playing the Magic carried over into the second quarter as John Wall and Otto Porter knocked down back-to-back threes right in front of the Wizards bench stretching the lead to 12, 40-28 midway through the second quarter.

With the second quarter coming to a close and the Wizards looking to get the last shot, Marcin Gortat found Gary Neal for a three-pointer as the first half expired as the Wizards took a 60-49 lead into halftime.

The Wizards coasted through the beginning of the third quarter stretching the lead to 17, their largest of the game, when John Wall found Otto Porter in the corner for a three. The Wizards offense started to stall a bit but that’s when Gary Neal did most of his damage knocking down shots and keeping the Wizards at a comfortable double-digit lead.

With just seconds to play in the third, John Wall took the ball the length of the court and hit a 20-foot left-handed floater as time expired. The shot stretched the Wizards lead back out to 15, 85-70.

Things got a little close for comfort but the Magic never got closer than six in the fourth quarter. John Wall put this game away when he knocked down a three-pointer from Steph Curry’s range with 2:35 to play to balloon the Wizards lead to 13.

That would be the nail in the coffin as the Wizards beat the Magic 105-99 and complete the season sweep.

Wizards let it fly from 3: The Wizards shot a very impressive 57 percent (13-23) from three-point range for the game and 58 percent in the first half including a buzzer beater from Gary Neal as time expired. The Wizards’ three-pointers came in a variety of ways; Pick-and-Pops with Dudley, Gary Neal curling off screens, and Wall finding open shooters in their spots. More importantly, the Wizards’ hit timely threes throughout the game, many of which coming at times when Orlando was clawing into the lead.

Wizards convert turnovers into points: The Wizards were very impressive on the defense end with seven steals in the first half, and 10 for the game. The Wizards turned those seven first-half steals into 15 points, 12 of which coming in transition highlighted by Wall going around the world for this layup:

The Wizards picked up in the third quarter right where they left off as John Wall poked away a cross-court pass and Porter threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open Wall for an easy dunk to start the third. For the game, the Wizards forced 15 Magic turnovers resulting in 20 points.

Wizards spread the wealth: Since this team is short-handed, everyone has to step up and every player did. Six players scored in double figures tonight. The Wizards had 29 assists on 42 made field goals (69 percent) including five players who had 3+ assists tonight. Gary Neal was instant offense off the bench scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting with some key buckets coming early in the second and midway through the third quarter. Lastly, it won’t show in the box score but Kelly Oubre Jr. played very well in just 15 minutes of play. Although the rookie didn’t score, he was very active on defense and had no issue switching onto smaller guards. Oubre had several deflections as his length really came into play tonight.

Wizards vs. Magic final score: Wizards use late run to pull away from Magic, 108-99

Kris Humphries led the Wizards in scoring with 23 points including 5-8 from three-point range as the Wizards beat theMagic 108-99; their tenth straight win over Orlando. Garrett Temple got the start for the injured Bradley Beal and scored 18 points. John Wall and Marcin Gortat chipped in with 15 and 13 points respectively as the Wizards were able to pull away late.

The matchup between Nikola Vucevic and Marcin Gortat was fun to watch as Vucevic scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting early on. Even though the Magic started the game connecting on their first 10-12 field goals, the Wizards fought back into this one and got hot from three-point land knocking down 5-9 shots from long range in the first quarter and led 29-27 after one.

Kelly Oubre Jr. saw some early playing time and opened the second quarter with a strong drive in transition. Unfortunately for the rookie, he picked up three fouls in just four minutes of play and was forced back to the bench.

Humphries wasn’t shy from three-point range to start this one but passed on a wide-open three to drive to the hole for a dunk, tying the game at 37 midway through the second quarter. The Wizards’ did a great job spreading the ball around in the first half as all 10 players who played scored; but the Magic held a 56-50 lead on 47 percent shooting the first half.

Whatever Randy Wittman said to the team at halftime worked. The Wizards started the quarter on a 10-2 run including this very slick pass from John Wall to Garrett Temple for an easy bucket in transition.

Kris Humphries knocked down a straightaway three as the Wizards regained the lead 63-60 at the 8:20 mark. The Wizards were able to control the third quarter ending it on a 13-2 run. In one of their most impressive quarters in recent memory, the Wizards held Orlando to 37 percent shooting and the team collectively had 10 assists but the Wiz led by just 3, 79-76 entering the fourth quarter.

The lead seesawed back and forth throughout the fourth quarter. Whenever it looked like the Wizards might run away, Orlando had an answer. Timely buckets from Tobias Harris and Elfrid Payton kept the Magic within striking distance.

The Wiz regained the lead late in the fourth quarter when Wall found Humphries on the right side for a wide open three as Wizards regained the lead 92-90 with just 4:30 to play. The Wizards used an 8-0 run including another big three-pointer from Kris Humphries as the Wizards stretched the lead to 5, 104-99. John Wall locked down on defense turning the Magic over and they had no other option but to foul Wall on a clear path foul.

The Wizards close this one out and win, 108-99. The win snaps the team’s mini three game skid.

Career highs all around: Plenty of career highs tonight. Kris Humphries knocked down a career high five three pointers on 5-8 shooting from distance. Garrett Temple matched his career high of 18 points on a very effective 5-10 shooting. And lastly, Otto Porter tied his career high with 10 rebounds tonight.

Wiz spread the wealth: All 10 Wizards players scored tonight. The bench chipped in for 30 points led by Nene with nine points and Gary Neal with seven. Oh… And the Wizards had 29 assists on 39 (74 percent) of their made field goals. That’s damn good folks.

Wizards vs. Magic final score: Washington sneaks out of Orlando with 88-87 win

Basketball is a game of inches right?

As expected in an opener, both teams looked jittery from the get-go. The Wizards turned the ball over on their first three possessions and the two teams combined to shoot 2-8 from the field to start this one. John Wall knocked the cobwebs off for the Wizards as he hit a three pointer for the team’s first bucket of the season. The Wizards new highflying offense knocked down their next five shots to storm out to an early 18-9 lead.

The Magic answered with a mini-run of their own punctuated by a monstrous put-back dunk by Aaron Gordon to trim the lead down to three. The game started loosening up as the teams traded easy buckets and three pointers towards the end of the quarter. It was starting to look like both teams would crack 110 points tonight.

In a pre-Halloween scare, Bradley Beal went up for a floater and landed very hard on the floor. Beal would lie still on the hardwood for a few moments but would end up being ok. Even with the scare, the Wizards led 31-29 after one with Wall and Beal combining for 20 points in the period.

Elfrid Payton hit a pull-up jumper at the 10:30 mark to start the second quarter as the Magic took back the lead, 35-33. Shots weren’t falling for the Wizards’ run-and-gun offense to start the second quarter; and the super small lineup of Wall, Sessions, and Neal in the backcourt looks like it will take some time to click.

The Wizards got some help off the bench from microwave scorer Gary Neal who got cooking right away as he knocked down 3 of his first 4 shots to provide a bit of a scoring spark for the Wizards as they regained the lead 44-43 at the 5-minute mark.

Even though the Wizards relinquished a whopping 26 points in the paint, they still held the lead 53-51 at halftime.

Like the start of the game, the Wizards started the second half on a 6-0 run looking like they would stretch the lead to double figures. Not so fast. The Wizards offense reverted back to the one we got used to seeing post All-Star break last season. Bad shots, unforced turnovers, it was all on display as the Wizards would shoot 4-17 for the third quarter. Fortunately, The Magic’s offense wasn’t much better as they only outscored the Wizards 16-12 in the quarter but held the lead, 67-65 entering the fourth quarter.

The Magic’s momentum carried over into the fourth quarter as they stretched the lead out to 78-70 on a scrappy putback layup from Victor Oladipo. The Wizards kept clawing away and the tied the game at 78 when John Wall stole a lazy pass from Oladipo and took it the length of the court for his patented behind the back layup.

Wall and Beal carried the Wiz in the fourth quarter scoring 19 of the team’s 23 points, none bigger than when John Wall came off a Gortat screen floated to the open space in paint and knocked down a teardrop to give the Wizards an 88-87 lead with just 12 seconds to play.

The drama was far from over. The Magic had one last chance to take the lead on a final shot which bounced around and sat still on the rim for what seemed like five minutes before Bradley Beal knocked it away. Beal was called for goaltending but after review, the refs determined the ball was out of the cylinder.

The refs gave the ball back to the Magic who found Nikola Vucevic for a desperation shot but it was way off. What a way to start the season. The Wizards sneak out of Orlando with the W, 88-87.

Notes: After starting 5-7 from three-point range, the Wizards shot 2-21 from long range for the remainder of the game. The Wizards were aggressive in attacking the hole and getting to the free-throw line, but were only able to make 15-25 from the charity stripe. The Wizards go to Milwaukee next where they’ll take on the Bucks Friday night.

Recap: Magic at Wizards

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Wiz blow out another inferior opponent in the Magic 96-80 behind 15 points from Rasual Butler off the bench. Once again, John Wall barely missed a triple-double posting a stat line of 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. In addition to Butler; Gooden, Gortat, and Nene all scored in double figures in a balanced effort from this team.

The Wizards bigs got involved right from the get go. Gortat hit a floater to start the game and Nene was very active swooping to the lane looking to attack the rim. The Wizards pushed the ball early resulting in some easy buckets and 17 transition points for the game.

Scary moment at the 27 second mark of the first quarter. Kris Humphries went up for a rebound and it looked like his leg got caught on Kyle O’Quinn’s. Kris was unable to break his fall and landed on his back, he would not return.

Both teams started quarter the second ice cold. The Wizards started 3-11 from the field whereas the Magic were 4-11. Unfortunately, turnovers reared their ugly head once again as the Wizards committed their 11th midway through the second quarter and had 20 overall. Against teams like the Magic and the Nets, you can get away with this. Turnovers were a huge issue during the losing streak and that must get cleaned up against the upper echelon teams.

As a result, the Wiz were just up eight, 43-35 at half.

Neither team hit a three pointer in the first half; the Magic were 0-11 and the Wizards went 0-7 from three point range. That changed quickly as the Wizards hit three three pointers in as many possessions from Wall, Temple, and Pierce. Slow starts to halves have plagued this team but these three pointers stretched the lead out to 15.

Gortat seems to be out of his funk which is a great sign. The Polish hammer had 14 points and 14 rebounds and really turned things on in the third quarter. Him and John got the pick and roll going again which led to easy dunks or drawing a foul while going up for a shot.

Once again, John went all “Skip to My Lou” when we threw a behind the back pass in transition for Nene who threw down a thunderous jam. The Wizards coasted the rest of the way and the Magic never got closer than 10. The Wiz win 96-80 in their last home game before the All Star break.