The Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 105 to 97. The win snaps an 8 game losing streak and going into a very difficult stretch where the Wizards play 7 playoff contenders.
Most of the Wizards problems stemmed from the first 8(!) minutes of the game, where the Jameer Nelson scored a bunch and the Wizards went down 25 to 8. From then on, the Wizards took over, and the only time it looked at all scary for the Wizards was in the first moments of the 4th quarter where the Magic cut the Wizards lead to 4. But all of the worry was for nothing, as the Wizards picked themselves up and didn’t look back.
The Wizards got a rare win and there is nothing else to do but celebrate.
Four factors: I am going to try and include this in all my recaps from now on. Via Basketball-Reference, Dean Oliver identifies in his book “Basketball on Paper” what he called “The Four Factors of Basketball Success”. Instead of calculating Oliver’s formula for each factor, I plan to use each factor as a springboard for a larger discussion:
- 1. Shooting: For the second straight game, the Wizards shot well above their average field goal percentage, shooting 47.7% instead of their average 40.7, and outshot the Magic, whose FG% was 44.8. The Wizards once again trailed in 3-point percentage, where they finished 30% compared to the Magic’s 35.7%. Still, I hope that the upward trend in FG% is permanent. Edge: Even.
- 2. Turnovers: This was even, with both teams having 5 rebounds. The Wizards did a better job getting on the break, but that was on defense, and I’ll talk about that later. Edge: Even.
- 3. Rebounding: The Wizards rebounded well, beating the Magic on the boards by 6 and beating them in offensive rebounds by 2. I think the Wizards have been coached to start swatting out balls when on offense, because I’ve see a lot more of that recently then I did earlier in the season. Edge: Slightly Wizards
- 4. Free Throws: The Wizards shot extremely well from the line, going 15-17 on FTs. But even more importantly, they didn’t commit many shooting fouls. The Magic only shot 10 FTs, and only shot 1 FT in the entire first half. This being a Magic strength, the Wizards had clearly been told to be extra cautious in not fouling. They did a very good job of it. Edge: Wizards.
Overall: This is a time when the four factors do not do justice to the Wizards performance. The Wizards rebounding and defense was converted into fast break points, which they dominated 23-7. The Wizards are the worst teams in the league. Tonight, they played like a slightly below .500 team. That alone is cause to celebrate.
- At halftime, Jordan Crawford, Nene, and Garrett Temple were a combined 17-20. The rest of the team? 6-27. That shows you how important those three were in keeping this game from getting ridiculously out of hand.
- As this was an obviously not sustainable, other players stepped up the second half. Kevin Seraphin and Martell Webster chief among them.
- Watching Seraphin, it was clear that he could be getting to the line more. It’ll come with time. He doesn’t have the same behavioral issues as Blatche, which makes me more comfortable in my projection he’ll improve.
- Emeka Okafor was fantastic on defense. Easily the biggest reason why the Wizards have an above average defense
- Tip of my hat to: JJ Redick, because he comes off the bench and burns teams from the DMV area every damn time, Jameer Nelson, for starting the game so hot, and the Magic, for letting Wizards fans celebrate.