In going down 102-95 to an Orlando Magic team that appears to be suffering from mental fatigue due to uncertain cohesiveness, at least the Washington Wizards looked better at losing than they have in the past. Similar to the second half of the Milwaukee game, Randy Wittman opted to keep Nick Young and JaVale McGee benched in favor of a starting lineup of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin. And while this unit struggled out of the gate, they did their jobs and stayed mostly within themselves.
Certainly there were mistakes. Furthermore, missed shots. All to be expected from young team making an earnest attempt while lacking size against a specimen like Dwight Howard and shot-makers who can be trusted to not disrupt the offense. Crawford caught fire with 14 points in the third quarter to go with four assists, giving him a hand in most of the Wizards’ 29 points scored in the period to Orlando’s 25. Once trailing by 17 points in the first half, Washington was down just 71-70 heading into the final 12 minutes. Unfortunately Crawford got cold in the fourth and went 0-for-6 from the field.
But John Wall picked up the slack. He scored 10 straight points for Washington after a timeout at the 10:27 mark of the last quarter when the Wizards were down 79-71. Wall capped his efforts with an assist to Mo Evans for a 3-pointer; it was a 13-4 run that tied the game at 83 with 6:56 left. But back-to-back threes by Orlando’s Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson after a Magic timeout at the 6:34 mark helped bury Washington. A long Nelson offensive rebound resulting in a Hedo Turkoglu 3-pointer that put the Magic up 100-91 with 1:32 left served as the dagger. But the point is that the Wizards fought, as a team, and with strong contributions from Booker, Singleton and a handful of others in addition to Wall and Crawford.