The schedule is never an excuse for a loss. Everyone plays whatever the schedule makers give them whether they want to or not. The schedule does not care if you had to travel 2,668 miles a few days earlier. When the schedule says you play, you play.
It cannot be used as an excuse — each game still counts the same and each game starts at 0-0 with the chance to win in the next 48 minutes. You could see it though that Orlando did not have the legs or the concentration throughout the night to keep up with an energetic young Wizards squad feeling good with the return of their start and feeling confident all of a sudden.
Washington raced out to an early lead and, despite Orlando fighting back in the second quarter with a 13-0 run to bring it to six points at the half, shut the door in the third quarter. That seemed to break the Magic's spirit in the Wizards' 119-91 victory at Verizon Center on Monday. Orlando was not shooting itself back into this game.
The Wizards got a season-high 19 points from Emeka Okafor, who hit a few jumpers in the process. John Wall came off the bench to score 13 points and dish out six assists. A.J. Price had 18 points from the starting point guard spot and Bradley Beal had 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting.
The key stat was the 26 fast break points — 18 in the first half — and 25 free throw attempts showing just how aggressive Washington was going at Orlando. The Wizards had the advantage from the very beginning of the game, bulldozing their way into the paint by establishing Okafor and Nene in the post and attacking off every missed basket and turnover.
The Magic did not have many turnovers — 14, but many came as things got sloppier late in the game — but they had plenty of missed shots. And the Magic could not get much dribble penetration or challenge the trees in the paint. They shot just 42.5 percent from the floor and an icy 5 for 18 from beyond the arc.
Washington just continued to go at Orlando and Orlando rarely had an answer.
The only time the Magic did was a 13-0 run in the final three minutes of the second quarter. After falling behind by 19 points, Jameer Nelson took over with a spurt of energy and aggression. He scored 14 of his 19 points and recorded four of his 12 assists in the second quarter to help Orlando burst through and make it a six-point game at the half.
The icing on the cake was a 3-pointer he hit followed by stealing hte ball from John Wall as he tried to roll the ball up the floor and give his team as much time as possible for a final possession. Nelson dove in and knocked the ball away from Wall, beating him to it and finding Josh McRoberts for a dunk.
That capped all the positivity for the evening however. Washington dominated the third quarter and a bad game got worse for Orlando.
The Magic's defensive rotations were slow, shots were falling short (sometimes embarassingly so) and the team was struggling to get back in transition. Orlando looked like a tired team that had some jet lag from a long West Coast trip.
This had "Schedule Loss" written all over it. It got ugly as if to emphasize that point.
At least Orlando had the bright spot of seeing Glen Davis return. He made an immediate impact with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting in 18 minutes. Jacque Vaughn said he would continue to ease Davis back into the lineup, but it was good to see Davis back and he cleaned up a lot of Orlando's defensive mistakes in the first half when he was in.
That alone is not enough to overcome the tired legs from everyone else on the team.
And that final score is not getting erased from the ledgers. Fortunately, it was just one loss for the Magic and they can rest easy in their beds tonight.