The Washington Wizards broke a 9-game losing streak to the Orlando Magic tonight, coming back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter to triumph 93-85 in the Verizon Center. It was Washington's second win over a division opponent in as many nights. The Wiz squashed the Charlotte Bobcats by 28 points Monday night. Both the Wizards and Magic were short-handed tonight, with the former missing Nene and Trevor Booker and the latter playing without Dwight Howard [back spasms] and Hedo Turkoglu. The absence of Howard helped the Wizards down low and they exploited the advantage to the tune of 46 points in the paint.
The Wizards overcame poor shooting from behind the arc and a 20-8 deficit in second chance points with solid defense in the final three quarters and a big night from Kevin Seraphin. In the battle of the backup centers -- Seraphin v. Glenn "Big Baby" Davis -- the Wizkid emerged victorious. Seraphin hit 11 of 16 shots to score a game-high 24 points, grab a game-high 13 rebounds, block a game-high 4 shots and post a game-high +14 court ratio. Just as encouragingly, Seraphin scored with his usual array of short jump hooks -- with both hands -- but also stepped outside and hit a couple of mid-range jumpers when the defense played off him. It was the best performance of Seraphin's young career and points towards greater things in the future.
The game got off to a poor start, with the Magic putting on a dazzling long-range shooting display to build a 13-point lead on 3-pointers. The Wizards seemed unable to stop it, a problem many teams have, as the Magic lead the NBA in 3-pointers made and taken. However, the Magic cooled off after that and the Wizards played harassing and helping defense to hold Orlando to under 37% shooting from the field. Seraphin was a tough presence for the Wizards, blocking four shots, including three put up by Glenn Davis, who needed 13 shots to score only 12 points. Dwight Howard takes the most free throws in the NBA -- and misses the most, too -- but without him in the lineup the Magic took only 10 foul shots and the Wizards played smart defense, getting stops without giving up many bad fouls.
It was another efficient game for John Wall, who added 15 points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals. Back court running mate Jordan Crawford started slowly, but lit up in the second half to finish with 21 points on 10-18 shooting, and would have done more, but the refs strangely didn't give him calls on plays where he was clearly hacked. Crawford added four rebounds and four assists to go with his four turnovers. Off the bench the team once again got big contributions from James Singleton [12 points on 5-6 shooting and 8 rebounds] and Cartier Martin [12 points, 2-6 on 3-pointers], who did most of their damage in the second half when the Wizards finally made a run to separate themselves a bit.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth battle between the teams, with Jordan Crawford carrying the Wizards. He scored 10 points in the period and at one point either scored or assisted on 12 straight points for the team. The Wizards trailed by one to start the fourth quarter, but built a five point lead. However, the Magic knocked that down to one point and seemed poised to take back control of the game. However, some good defense by Kevin Seraphin and James Singleton, timely outside shooting by Roger Mason and Martin and some nifty drives into the paint by Crawford helped Washington build a small lead again. In the final minutes it was only the Wizards making plays to secure the win. Jordan Crawford's 3-pointer from the corner with 1:21 left in the game put the Wizards up 89-81, a lead the Magic could not overcome. The Magic came back and scored a bucket, but John Wall threw a beautiful alley-oop pass to James Singleton, who slammed the ball down with 59 seconds left, putting the Wizards up 91-83. Washington got another stop and then Crawford drove into the paint for a layup to put the Wiz up 93-83.
It was good to see Seraphin take advantage of a lesser center like Glenn Davis, though he did a much better job against Big Baby than most have. Sure, Dwight Howard wasn't in the lineup, but there's only one Dwight Howard anyway. Most teams don't have great centers and if Seraphin can play anything like that against those that don't, it's a good sign for him and for the team.
It will be interesting to see how Seraphin handles playing against a very tall and quick veteran center like Tyson Chandler on Friday.
Great second half from Crawford. Solid game from John Wall. Love what Martin and Singleton are giving the team off the bench. Seems like these guys play well and then the team convinces itself it has upgraded in the offseason and doesn't need them anymore. Only to learn the hard way that they haven't upgraded at all and now need them back. Let's just keep them this time. Martin can have Nick Young's spot on the team and Singleton can have Andray Blatche's spot. Singleton can himself "7-Day Sing" without it sounding like a cruel joke. Alluding to how well Singleton and Martin have played, coach Randy Wittman said after the game: "We might have to go to all 10-day contracts next year."
The Wizards have only eight games left in the season, with the NY Knicks next up on Friday.
Check out the video highlights and more below...
WIZARDS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kevin Seraphin -- 11-16 shooting, 24 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, +14 court ratio