Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 31 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Magic, Game 31

Updated: January 1, 2016

Washington Wizards vs Orlando Magic

Teams: Wizards vs Magic
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington DC
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 1.5 points.

The Wizards opened their 2015-16 season in Orlando with a victory over the Magic, and then beat their divisional foe in the season’s eighth game in mid-November in Washington. To open 2016, the Wizards will play the Magic for the third time in 31 games; the two teams will soon again face off for the fourth and final time of the season in game 35 on Jan. 9.

The Wizards, to say, are familiar with Magic and very familiar with beating them—Washington has won 10 straight games in the series. So this Jan. 1 matchup brings more trappings than your standard New Year’s Hangover threat. Orlando last won on March 29, 2013 in Florida behind 30 points from Tobias Harris. Only two players on the current Wizards roster, John Wall and Garrett Temple, played that night. Wall scored 35 points in the loss. Starters Martell Webster, Trevor Booker, and Emeka Okafor are long gone; Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price, Chris Singleton, Cartier Martin, and Jan Vesely also played. The times, they do a-change. And now the year’s anew. (1)

That first win down in Orlando to open the campaign on Oct. 28 was an important one. It also foretold of a Wizards team that will likely be looking itself in the mirror till season’s end. I’ll let TAI’s Conor Dirks take it away, from his game D.C. Council:

For the first time since John Wall was drafted, the Wizards won their first game of the season. The win was due, more than anything, to Wall carrying the distressingly disproportionate burden the team still needs him to carry. He was as guilty of sloppiness as any of his teammates (racking up a team-high 6 turnovers), but in at least one instance the turnover appeared to be a result of a botched anticipation pass, with Wall firing the ball to where he believed a teammate, Beal, ought to be. But let’s move on to why I’ve constructed this temporary pixel throne for Washington’s best and highest-paid player.

Wall scored or assisted on the first nine Wizards points of the season, showing a willingness to make Magic defenders pay for rotating late when he was beyond the 3-point line (Wall was 2-for-6 on 3-pointers, but his first basket was a 3). He paced the Wizards early and, more importantly, he stepped up late.

The game ended oddly and closer to uncomfortable than not. A late goaltending call against Marcin Gortat was reversed upon review and deemed “illegal touching” instead, but by another Wizard, Bradley Beal, who actually appeared to touch the ball legally (while a member of the Magic appeared to inappropriately touch the ball first). The result of that complication: Orlando got another chance to win the game and missed at the buzzer. The Great Escape, a mini-series featuring Randy Wittman’s Troupe.

The second victory over Orlando was just as key amongst baffling Wizards times. It came right after Washington got blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder at home. TAI’s Adam Rubin observed in his game D.C. Council, via is L.V.P. designation:

Energy—or lack thereof. Washington started the game like they were hungover from three days of rest. The Magic waltzed to a 15-5 lead and it looked like Orlando might pick up right where Oklahoma City left off the previous game.

It was a disturbing opening six minutes for a team that supposedly ate, drank and slept defense over the previous 72 hours. Ironically, Kris Humphries suggested after the game that the team’s poor first quarter defense may have been caused by exhaustion from their focus on defense during the previous three off days. “We’ve been working so hard, I think a lot of guys were tired,” Humphries said.

To end 2015, the Magic won two games in a row and have won seven of their last nine games. They are 19-13 and hold the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Scott Skiles is coming for Randy Wittman.

This is the first of a four-game home stretch for the Wizards, all against tough competition—the Heat, Cavaliers, and Raptors next come to town. Then Washington will travel to Orlando, to Chicago, host Milwaukee, and go to Indiana on Friday, Jan. 15. The first eight games in 2016 will be telling for the roller coaster Wizards, starting with the story of each one.

Pre-Game Notes.

  1. CORRECTION: A previous version of this post inaccurately relayed that the Wizards had won 13 in a row versus Orlando, instead of 10, and that the last Magic win came in December 2012, instead of March 2013. The text has been updated.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.