Magic brings 9-game slippage in contrast against Wizards

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January 9, 2022; Orlando, Florida, United States; Orlando Magic guard Terrence Ross (31) guards Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) during the second half at the Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards continue their long stay at home on Wednesday with their second meeting in four days against an Orlando Magic team that continues to improve despite another long losing streak.

The Wizards won the first game in a row on Tuesday, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-118 as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope nodded at 3 points with 31.5 seconds left and Kyle Kuzma finished with 29 points. Washington’s 15-day, eight-game home streak follows a two-game road trip that ended in a comeback victory in Orlando.

The secondary storyline deals with Washington’s roster as leading scorer Bradley Beal returned to league health and safety protocol ahead of the Oklahoma City game.

Washington’s Montrezl Harrell returned after missing seven games in the COVID-19 protocol, while Anthony Gill also cleared the protocol but did not play on Tuesday. Meanwhile, former first-round pick Rui Hachimura made his season debut this weekend against Orlando, and center Thomas Bryant (left ACL recovery) is also set to return.

Orlando’s bigs Mo Bamba (toe) and Wendell Carter Jr. (hamstrings) are questionable for Wednesday. But the Magic – who have lost nine straight games, a season record – no longer had any players listed in the protocol.

Washington trailed Orlando 79-72 early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but the Wizards made several key plays at both ends of the floor to secure a 102-100 victory.

“We knew this team (Orlando) was going to be tough,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after Sunday’s game. “They’ve shown it time and time again. You watch them, they compete at the highest level. They keep coming, and I give them credit for it.

“Jamahl (Mosley, Magic’s coach), his staff, these guys, they play really hard. So even when the shots aren’t working, they still keep watch and do a lot of those little things that keep them in the games.

Kuzma scored 14 of his 27 points in the last period – including a 3-pointer with 3:10 remaining that gave Washington a 95-89 lead – and the Wizards held on for their 10th road win. . Beal, who finished with 20 points, and Kuzma also put in some defensive clutch effort during Orlando’s final possession to deny Gary Harris’ 3-point attempt as well as Chuma Okeke’s setback to the rim.

Kuzma scored a career-high 22 rebounds against Orlando, making him the Wizards’ first player with a 20-20 game since 2010. The 6-foot-9 forward also became the franchise’s fourth player with more. 20 rebounds in a game in the past. 10 years.

In Washington’s two wins against the Magic this season, Kuzma averaged 22 points and 16 rebounds while shooting 16 for 33 from the field.

The Wizards failed 54 percent of their field goal attempts against the Thunder, punctuated by Kuzma’s 12-for-17 effort. Washington guard Spencer Dinwiddie had 22 points and 10 assists.

Orlando holds the worst 41-game record in franchise history, but the Magic had the opportunity to win each of their first five games in January. And it coincides with published reports that the team has extended the contracts of president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond until the 2025-2026 season.

One of the reasons for optimism is the recent play of sharpshooter Terrence Ross, who has totaled 111 points in five games since the end of Protocols. Ross, who shot 49% (40 to 82) from the field in that streak, scored 16 of his 32 points on Sunday in a scorching third quarter.

“The results weren’t what we like, but we stick with it,” said Ross, who scored 20 consecutive points in the second half against Washington to tie Tracy McGrady’s team record. “And we learn, we grow, we make improvements. So, we’ll eventually overcome this bump.

–Field level media

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