WASHINGTON (AP) — Just maybe, the Washington Wizards are figuring things out.
John Wall had 25 points and 10 assists, Bradley Beal added 21 points and the Wizards won consecutive games for the first time this season, beating the Orlando Magic 117-109 on Monday night.
Jeff Green added 18 points off the bench on 6-of-7 shooting. He hit four 3-pointers for Washington, which lost at Orlando on Friday night to fall to 2-9 before winning at Miami. This from a team that has made the playoffs four of the past five seasons and entered this one with relatively minor roster changes.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, defending home court,” said Green, who joined Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers as Washington’s substantial offseason additions. “But we can’t dwell too much on these two wins. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The Wizards made 24 free throws on 33 attempts, including 13 of 18 in the fourth quarter, while earning 22 more foul shots than the Magic
“The difference in the game was they got in the bonus early in the fourth quarter,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “To win on the road, we scored 26 in the fourth. That’s got to be enough to win. But if you’re going to put them at the free-throw line that much, it’s going to be hard to do.”
Terrence Ross scored 21 points off the bench to lead Orlando, which saw a two-game winning streak snapped.
Aaron Gordon had 18 points and 10 rebounds a night after he was scratched with a sprained ankle, and Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Two of Green’s six baskets came during a decisive 14-4 Washington run. His fourth 3-pointer of the night, from the right wing off Wall’s feed, gave the Wizards a 99-94 lead. He followed that with an alley-oop dunk, also on Wall’s assist, to push the lead to five again.
“That’s what we got Jeff for,” Wall said. “He’s able to knock down shots but also do a great job defending one through five, putting the ball on the floor and creating for other guys.”
From there, Wall hit a pair of contested fadeaways and then a pair of free throws to make it 108-98 with 4:00 left, Washington’s largest lead of the night.
GIVE THEM A REASON
With an announced crowd of 15,346 Monday night that appeared smaller, Rivers said it’s on his team to bring fans back after a poor start.
“We’ve got to give a reason for the crowd to come to the game,” Rivers said. “It was empty, man. It was like a high school state championship game.”
SIXTH MAN SENSE
Ross is making a strong early case for consideration for the NBA’s sixth man award if he remains in his current bench role. Monday marked his third time scoring 20 or more points in 14 games, all as a reserve, and his 10th reaching double figures.
WISE WITH WALL
Wall played only 33 minutes, his fewest this month after going 40 or more in Washington’s previous three games.
“To be quite honest I’ve been playing John a little bit too much,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Not that his body can’t handle it. … But I’ve got to be wise. Tonight I definitely wanted to keep his minutes at a respectable number.”
Magic: Failed to win three straight for the first time since Feb. 5-8 last season and three straight on the road for the first time since on Oct. 31-Nov. 10, 2017. … A night after his injury scratch, Gordon led all Orlando players in minutes.
Wizards: Waived G Chasson Randle before the game. … Did not commit a turnover until Austin Rivers’ errant pass with 10:41 left in the second quarter.
Magic: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Wizards: Host Cleveland on Wednesday night in the second game of a five-game homestand.
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