The Washington Wizards had a healthy John Wall hitting his stride and seemingly had figured things out following a recent slump, but their most recent result suggests there is still plenty of work to be done. The Wizards will try to bounce back from a lopsided road loss when they host the reeling Orlando Magic on Saturday.
Washington was 3-1 since Wall came back from a knee injury before it suffered an ugly 119-84 setback at Brooklyn on Friday, the squad’s second-largest margin of defeat this season. “We got our butts kicked,” coach Scott Brooks told reporters after his team shot 36.6 percent and was outrebounded 60-35. “Myself included. We seemed like a step slow all the way around.” A silver lining in the loss was that Wall saw only 16 minutes of action as he prepares to play in both ends of a back-to-back for the first time since returning from the injury. Another silver lining lies in the fact that Washington gets to take on an Orlando team that has lost seven in a row and hasn’t had a lead in the last three games.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), NBCSN Washington
ABOUT THE MAGIC (11-22): Injuries continue to play a major role in Orlando’s slump as leading scorers Evan Fournier (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (calf) have missed seven straight and three straight, respectively, and both are considered doubtful to return Saturday. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves,” coach Frank Vogel told reporters after Friday’s 111-97 loss to New Orleans at home. “It’s that simple. We’re playing a game (Saturday) night.” Jonathon Simmons continues to do his part in filling the gaps and he had 22 points against the Pelicans for his fifth 20-point effort in the last seven contests.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (17-15): Saturday’s game offers a chance for leading scorer Bradley Beal to bounce back from perhaps his worst game of the season, as the sharpshooter was 2-for-15 from the floor and tied a season low with four points against the Nets. Otto Porter Jr. returned from a two-game layoff but managed just six points in 21 minutes as Wall’s 10-point performance led the starters. Even backup forward Mike Scott, who was a phenomenal 53-of-72 from the floor over his previous eight games, struggled on the offensive end and finished 3-for-8 in 20 minutes.
1. Wall needs 19 points to move past Kevin Loughery (9,833) and into second place in franchise history.
2. Magic C Nikola Vucevic’s string of seven consecutive double-doubles came to an end Friday as he finished with 21 points and eight rebounds.
3. The teams split four meetings last season and the average margin of victory was 3.5 points.
PREDICTION: Wizards 105, Magic 94