Dave Johnson: Magic Pull A Trick In The End

Dave Johnson: Magic Pull A Trick In The End
November 28, 2010, 3:06 am
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Saturday, November 27, 2010, 9:54p.m.

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.comWashington---Verizon Center is turning into the house of thrills. Against the Orlando Magic, the Wizards added another close game to their home schedule resume, but lost 100-99 despite season highs in points from Gilbert Arenas and Nick Young.Arenas led the Wizards with 31 points including a turnaround jumper in the lane with 13.9 seconds left to put the Wizards up 99-98. Like the Magic had one more point than the Wizards, Dwight Howard had one more point than Arenas and finished with 32 points including the game winning bucket with four seconds on the clock.Howard was able to grab a Jameer Nelson air-ball and put it back to give the Magic the lead for good. Nelson had his shot altered by JaVale McGee as he drove down the side of the lane. The Wizards had one more chance but the runner by Arenas in the lane went off the back of the rim as time expired."I felt I was getting to the basket at will tonight," Arenas said of his final play. "I decided since he (Nelson) was back peddling, and he thought I was going to shoot the jump shot, I thought I would blow past him and try to get the layup. Once I saw Dwight step over, I tried to float it up a little bit and it was a little too hard."While Arenas failed in his effort to add another game-winning memory to his Wizards legacy, he was the reason the Wizards were able to rally from a 12-point halftime deficit. In short Arenas attacked the basket and scored 6 of his 13 points in the third quarter from the free throw line."We competed," said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "We had opportunities. I thought that we could have very easily hung our heads when we got in a situation and got down 12, but we fought back. We had some great individual play."Arenas was the central figure in the Wizards 15-2 run to take their first lead of the game at 64-63 with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter. An Alonzo Gee steal of a pass intended for Howard led to an Arenas three-pointer to cut the lead to one at 63-62. The Wizards took the lead on two Arenas free throws after he was fouled attempting a shot off a screen.Gee started at forward for Al Thornton who missed his second consecutive game with a sprained left ankle. Gee provided the energy and defensive intensity he is known for and finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. While Gee and Andray Blatche, who had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, were effective contributors, Nick Young absolutely took over in the fourth quarter when he scored 14 of his 21 points. In fact Young made his first six shot attempts of the quarter to give the Wizards an 87-82 lead with 7:40 remaining in the game."What was encouraging, we out-rebounded them," Saunders added. "You know we got thrashed by 30 rebounds in game number one. We competed, we fell behind, we fought back unlike we did in Atlanta. So we moved the ball better at times. We played with a little more confidence at times. It's disappointing we didn't get the win because you liked to have the win for the positive reinforcement."In fact the Wizards probably only had a chance for a second half recovery because of their effort on the boards. The Wizards did not shoot well in the opening 24 minutes, only 37 percent, but had the edge in rebounding on the Magic at the half 27-22.It was a Wizards team that not only had to use Gee instead of Thornton in the starting lineup, but John Wall was back on the sideline with a bruised right knee. In addition Yi Jianlian missed his seventh consecutive game with a bruised knee.To the Wizards credit, despite the changes and poor first half shooting, they had the Magic reeling and outscored them 29-19 in the third quarter. Not only did the Wizards find their offensive footing by not settling for quick jump shots, but their defensive rotations were solid all night."You'll hear coaches say this but it could not have been more true tonight, we absolutely stole a game," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. "I thought they played with a lot more energy than we did in the second half. First half, they were all over the boards, I thought they played very, very hard, kept themselves in the game just by rebounding the ball. And then (Gilbert) Arenas and Nick Young took us apart in the second half. Their defense was good."