Instant analysis: Wizards 98, Magic 80

Instant analysis: Wizards 98, Magic 80
December 2, 2013, 9:30 pm
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Wizards top Orlando 98-80

The Wizards have done it, well, sort of. For the first time since November of 2009, they're at least at .500 with Monday night's win at Verizon Center in front of 12,809.

They're 6-2 at home and earned their most lopsided win of the season with their only other double-digit victory coming in the first week. 

After Arron Afflalo opened with the first basket of the game, the Wizards (9-9) went on a 15-0 run as Trevor Ariza contributed two three-pointers. 

Victor Oladipo, a D.C.-area native who was the No. 2 overall draft pick by the Magic in June, played his first game as a professional here and aided by Afflalo led a comeback.

Jan Vesely misfired on a lob at the basket and the Wizards were out of sync with a surprising second unit by coach Randy Wittman. He also had Eric Maynor, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton and Ariza.

Orlando (6-11) went on an 8-0 run, five from Afflalo, to end the first quarter and tie the score at 22.

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Ariza was the only player for Washington in a groove in the first half where he scored 19 points. He made 6 of 7 shots while the rest of the starting lineup of John Wall, Martell Webster, Nene and Marcin Gortat shot  7-for-24.

Gortat didn't have a field goal in the first half, but he took it to Nikola Vucevic in the third quarter. Once Ariza made consecutive three-pointers, Gortat backed Vucevic down in the paint on each block and made jump hooks with both hands. 

Wall's three-pointer with the shot clock winding down put Washington up 71-55. He missed six of his first seven shots but finished 5-for-14 for 16 points, 2 of 4 on threes, and a game-high 13 assists. 

Nene scored 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting and six rebounds. Gortat closed with 13 points on 4-for-7. 

Afflalo led the Magic with 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting, followed by Mo Harkless with 16 on 7-for-13 and Oladipo 13 on 4-for-12. 

Turning point: With 5:36 left in the second quarter, the Wizards trailed 31-30 until Wall and the defense went on a spurt. Wall made consecutive points, Nene made five in a row, Ariza drained a three-pointer and stole a pass from Afflalo for an uncontested dunk. The Wizards went into the half up 52-41 and never were threatened again. Wall either scored or assisted on 21 of their last 26 points. 

Best in show: Ariza. He has been on fire. Ariza made eight of his first nine shots, including 4-for-4 on threes to post a season-high 24 points. Wall pushed the tempo and Ariza drifted to the corners where he got most of his looks. In the last last eight quarters, Ariza has shot 15-for-19 overall, 9 of 10 on threes.

Homecoming: Making the start, Oladipo scored 11 points in the first half as he had his own cheering section. His reverse layup under Gortat and free throws got the Magic on track after what had been a disastrous first quarter. Then, Oladipo had a crossover dribble, blew by Wall and threw down a two-handed dunk to cut the deficit to 42-37. Oladipo, however, wasn't a factor in the second half where he only scored two points and didn't make a field goal. He had six rebounds and two assists but missed all three of his three-point attempts. 

Block party: Glen Davis, who had just two points on 1-for-8 shooting in 21 minutes, couldn't get it going vs. Nene. The Wizards' 7-footer didn't concede space on the low post and blocked Davis' first attempt. Nene had three blocks -- all on Davis, who was a non-factor after picking up his fourth foul just 18 seconds into the third quarter. 

Empty the bench: Garrett Temple, Glen Rice and Kevin Seraphin entered in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter with the blowout in hand. Rice took three shots in five minutes, finishing with five points. Chris Singleton entered in the first quarter and got off strong because of two feeds from Wall that led to layups at the rim. He ended with 11 points on 4-for-7 and six rebounds in 24 minutes, his most action since returning from left foot/toe surgery.

From the locker room: "Closing out that stretch, we went through nine games in 14 days. To go 7-2 I’m really happy and proud of these guys. We didn’t get off to the kind of start to the season that we wanted and dug a little bit of a hole, but these guys have really battled back and to do it in a stretch like this. It means something. Mentally, physically. We’re a physical team. Mentally, we’ve come a long ways. Tonight I just thought they came out and they were bound and determined to win this game, start to finish.” -- Wittman

“Arron is good. He's gotten a lot better over the years. He's their leading scorer. It wasn't easy guarding him. He's really good. He did his thing tonight." -- Ariza on competing against former UCLA teammate Afflalo

“It was tough, I’m not going to lie. Even the best players, in the best shape, start feeling tired after the two weeks that we had. It wasn’t easy, but it was a tough test for us, and I think we passed. I’m glad we got some wins.” -- Gortat on difficult schedule and looking forward to a break

"It's amazing. For him to actually come, he sat next to my agent (Raymond Brothers). They shared words and stuff like that so, it's just nice for him to come. I really appreciate him for doing that. I wish I could have won. I wish I could have played a little bit better, but you know you just live to play another day." -- Oladipo on having his father in attendance

Around the bend: The Wizards will be off Tuesday and practice Wednesday and Thursday. They play the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Friday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).