The Washington Wizards have dominated the Orlando Magic over the past three seasons, and All-Star guard John Wall is a big reason why.
The former University of Kentucky star scored 24 points, handed out 10 assists and controlled the tempo from start to finish as the Wizards beat the Magic for the 12th straight time, 105-99 on Saturday night.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and gave the Wizards a sweep of the four-game season series. Orlando hasn’t beaten Washington since March 29, 2013.
“Most of them have been close games, but we compete and fight,” Wall said. “We do a great job against them defensively, we get rebounds and we get out and run. Just getting out and running gives our team a lot of advantages.”
Wall pushed the pace on nearly every possession, moving the ball swiftly from side to side and creating open shots for teammates. Washington shot 55.3 percent and had 29 assists.
All five Wizards starters scored in double figures, along with reserve Gary Neal. Otto Porter, Jared Dudley and Neal each scored 16 points, Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Garrett Temple added 11 points.
“I’m glad we’re done with them, to be honest,” Washington Coach Randy Wittman said. “We didn’t play stellar. We had some bad stretches, turned the ball over, but our intensity never wavered. It didn’t affect us defensively and that’s how you get through bad stretches.”
The Magic were good in spurts and awful in others, when turnovers and poor shot selection kept them from ever getting control of the game. The Magic couldn’t keep up with Washington’s speed and allowed the aggressive Wizards to contain them defensively.
Nikola Vucevic led Orlando with 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Victor Oladipo scored 17 and Channing Frye had 12, all in the first half. Aaron Gordon had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando, which has lost five of six.
“All four games they put us in a blender. … They owned us,” Magic Coach Scott Skiles said. “For whatever reason, against us, they play a much more physical game and we just haven’t responded to that.”
Washington had a 100-90 lead with less than 3 minutes left when Wall lined up a three-pointer from approximately 30 feet away and drained it.
The Wizards led by double digits throughout the second half until Tobias Harris’ layup cut Orlando’s deficit to 94-86 with 5:14 remaining.
The Magic, who struggled offensively most of the night, hit 13 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter and there was enough time for one last rally, but Wall kept the Wizards in front.
The point guard fed Dudley for a three-pointer to quiet the crowd, then pushed the shot clock near expiration before unloading from three or four steps behind the 3-point line. A minute later, he nailed one more pull-up jumper from 20 feet out.
Wizards: Power forward Nene, who just returned from missing 19 games with a strained left calf, sat out with a strained right triceps. Shooting guard Bradley Beal (leg) missed his 15th consecutive game and PF Kris Humphries (knee) missed his third straight. … Washington converted all six Magic turnovers into 12 fast-break baskets in the first period. … The Wizards had 20 fast-break points to nine for Orlando. … Gortat has double-doubles in 15 of his last 21 games.
Magic: Vucevic received a flagrant 1 foul for hitting Gortat in the face in the third period. … The Magic have scored fewer than 100 points in nine straight games against Washington. … Opponents have made as many free throws this season (665) as the Magic have attempted. … Point guard Elfrid Payton, who played 116 straight games, missed his fourth straight with a bone bruise. The club expects him to be ready by Thursday against Toronto.
TROUBLE WITH TURNOVERS
As well as Wall played, there was one line on the stat sheet he’d like to change: turnovers. For the third straight game, he had seven of them.
“I think I’m making the right reads but sometimes (teammates) drop ’em,” Wall said. “Some of them are my fault, but give credit to the defense. I try to make the right play if it’s there. Sometimes I make it and sometimes we lose the ball and sometimes it’s a bad pass by me. Turnovers like that I can deal with, but it’s ones where I try to do too much, those are more frustrating.”
The slumping Magic will fly to London on Monday and play the Toronto Raptors there Thursday. “This trip could help us or hurt us because it’s a long trip,” guard Evan Fournier said. “Toronto’s a very good team and if we lose the game, it can kind of break our spirit. We really have to take this trip seriously as professionals.”