Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic flat don’t have it in loss to Washington Wizards

Final
Orlando Magic
118
Washington Wizards
138

The NBA has a way of humbling teams really quickly. Teams of all stripes. But young teams especially.

The schedule is a brutal test every year of focus and intensity. It demands that you find your energy and find your way to compete every night.

The cliche among NBA teams is always that you are never as good as you are on your best days and never as bad as you are on your worst days. The best teams find that happy medium and do not swing too far from it.

The Orlando Magic were riding high after a strong fourth quarter in Friday’s win against the New Orleans Pelicans. They are probably not going to feel much lower than they felt after their loss Saturday to the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena.

The Orlando Magic were never right as they struggled to defend and get stops in a loss to the Washington Wizards on the road.

The Magic were never quite right, turning the ball over and fouling excessively, and the Wizards pounced on them as any good NBA team would do. They went up by double digits and scored 100 points through three quarters, topping 30 points in all three quarters on their way to a Magic season-worst 138 points.

Orlando fought to keep the deficit within striking reach, closing to within nine at the end of the third quarter. But the Magic never could threaten or string together stops in a 138-118 loss. Eventually, the Wizards just outlasted the Magic.

Orlando was simply a step slow all evening long and the team could never real Washington back in, getting into a shootout-type game that Orlando is simply not designed to win.

The Magic started the game out sending the Wizards to the line. Franz Wagner picked up three fouls in the first quarter, forcing him to sit much of the first half.

Kristaps Porzingis took advantage of switches to score eight points on a perfect 6 for 6 from the line. He finished the first half with 13 points and 8-for-8 shooting from the line (more than the Magic had as a team with just five attempts in the first half).

That is always the biggest sign of whether the Magic are successful or not. They let the Wizards take the game to them and they could not respond and get the easy shots.

Yes, Orlando hit shots — making 46.7 percent of the team’s shots, getting 14 of 34 3-pointers to go down and even getting to the line 24 times (for 20 makes and one fewer attempt than Washington).

But that was never enough. The Magic could not get stops. Never enough of them in a row. The Wizards made 53.7 percent of their shots, made 18 of 34 from beyond the arc and placed seven players in double figures (something that this team is not known for).

And so anything they built offensively just never sustained or cut into the lead enough.

Player Grades

Markelle Fultz: B-

Markelle Fultz always has a big game in store when he heads home to Washington, D.C. He put up a big scoring night with a season-high 23 points and eight assists. He was aggressive getting into the lane and got to his spots and hit shots in spots he is comfortable with. Not to mention he hit 3 of 4 3-pointers.

Fultz was one of the biggest drivers and engines for the Magic throughout the game in a positive way offensively. Orlando stayed in this game because of his efforts.

The Magic struggled to find their defensive matchups in this one. Markelle Fultz ended up matched up with Kristaps Porzingis for a good chunk of the first quarter and that threw off all the rotations as the team had to collapse the defense. Orlando just could not get things right.

Fultz’s biggest role is to control the game’s pace. And the Magic needed to slow things down and get under control to get their defense right. It might be too much to ask one player to have that control. But everything starts with the point guard.

Cole Anthony: C-

Cole Anthony had a breakout game Friday night, seemingly coming out of his slump and doing exactly what the Orlando Magic need him to do. He did not settle for jumpers and attacked the basket to get to the foul line. It all worked for him.

This game, it did not. Anthony scored only six points on 3-for-7 shooting. He had only one assist for the game. That is just a lot of struggling to get the ball moving and struggling to give the team the energy boost off the bench.

Now, Anthony only took one 3-pointer. He did not settle. He tried to attack the basket in the same way. But he could not get to the foul line and the misses led to runouts and put the defense in difficult situations.

Orlando was just off-balance all game. And Anthony’s game was a good example of it.

Moe Wagner: D

The Orlando Magic needed an inside presence to stop the bleeding. They needed energy and they needed some edge. They needed some smart playmaking and movement. That is usually what the team can rely on with Moe Wagner. But they did not get it and his minutes got cut for it — playing only eight minutes compared to Mo Bamba’s 19.5.

Wagner finished with four points on 2-for-5 shooting. He got eaten up inside and pushed out of position going for steals and rebounds. The Wizards were able to get into the paint with ease. That has unfortunately been something consistent about Wagner’s runs of late. Orlando’s needs at the backup center position are becoming clearer.

This grade is also just a general sign of how poorly the bench played. The Magic’s starters did not play great but the bench did not pick up the slack as they did in Friday’s win. Orlando could not reel its defense back in. And could not make up the gap.

Gary Harris: B

Gary Harris has back-to-back strong shooting games. Harris hit three of his four 3-point shots to score nine points. It was a solid showing from beyond the arc for him. That is a key part of his role. And all three of those 3-pointers were big answers to the Washington Wizards at various points.

The Magic found some pockets of good play and hitting those three 3-pointers was a big boost to a team that needed to find some energy. Or just keep their heads above water.

Harris hitting his threes — 43.8 percent from beyond the arc this season — and that is a big boost to the team. Harris has turned in a solid run this season.

The Orlando Magic return home Monday to face the Boston Celtics.