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Three Takeaways from Wizards 130-103 Win over Magic

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A night after being throttled by 35 points in Brooklyn, the Washington Wizards bounced back in a big way, downing the depleted Orlando Magic 130-103. It was a complete team effort, as seven Wizards scored in double figures. Mike Scott led the way, as he restored his hot shooting, going 7-of-8 from the floor for a team-high 18 points.

Bradley Beal and Otto Porter scored 17 points each. Meanwhile, Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre added 16 points each. Jodie Meeks added 10 off the bench and was an impressive plus-22 on the night.

But it was John Wall, the Wizards’ leader, who was the maestro of their act. He scored 10 points and dropped 13 assists — could have been 20 as head coach Scott Brooks alluded following the game. The Wizards completed a 46-point turnaround from the previous night.

Washington made 16-of-30 three pointers. They shot 54.7 percent from the field in all, and made 87 percent of their free throws. They also crushed the glass, going plus-21 on rebounds with a 49-28 advantage. Here’s three takeaways from the Wizards’ 18th win of the season.

1. Bounce Back

The Wizards were dejected after their woeful performance in Brooklyn Friday night. They had been embarrassed in a 119-84 drubbing. This right after Wall gifted each of his teammates, including a couple of two-way players Rolex watches. The jokes poured in on social media about the combination of gifts and horrible performance. The good thing is the Wizards got a chance to wipe the sour taste out of their mouths the next night.

It helps their opponent was the ailing Orlando Magic, who already were down four key players. They then lost Nikola Vucevic to a fractured left hand in the first quarter. But, there is no time to feel sorry, not for the Wizards. They took full advantage of the opportunity.

Just like earlier this month when they got whooped by Utah before bouncing back in Portland for a win — the Bradley Beal 51-point night — the Wizards did the same Saturday night at home against Orlando. They never let off the gas pedal, even when Orlando gave some push back.

This was an attitude, gut check game. The Wizards did some soul searching and they found some heart as exemplified in their plus-21 advantage on the boards as well as their activity and ball movement (29 assists). It was a good feel-good win before their Christmas showdown in Boston. On a season in which they’ve struggled against subpar teams, it was refreshing to see Washington not play down to the level of competition, especially after Friday night’s debacle.

2. Scott Brooks Leaned on His Stars at Right Moments

The Washington Wizards had padded a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter. However, as we’ve seen with them all season, no lead is safe with the Wizards. Head coach Scott Brooks understood there was a pivotal moment in the game. Instead of watching his bench lose momentum, he called on his stars, Wall, Beal, Porter, and Morris.

Brooks subbed in the four starters with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter. They responded, outscoring the Magic 21-11 the rest of the way to pad their lead to 24 at 72-48 at halftime. The 72 points were a season-high in the first half for the Wizards.

Wall set the tone with a block on Mario Hezonja. Then Wall dropped off three straight assists, two threes and a fast break dime that led to a three-point play by Oubre. In a blink the Wizards had scored nine points on three straight possessions. His passing became contagious, as Beal made a beautiful extra pass in the post to a cutting Oubre. Then Oubre found Porter for a three and Beal capped off the impressive run with a dump pass to Porter for another three-point play.

Brooks leaned on his starters for an extended period of time in the third quarter. They once again responded with positive results. They went on a stretch in which they made six straight three-pointers. Wall accounted for all six, as he assisted on five and made one. Washington scored 28 points in the frame and had 100 points at the end of it.

3. Bench Scores 65 Points

There was no second-guessing the rotation Saturday night. Brooks’ trust of his starters and understanding of the feel of the game trickled over to the bench. They scored 65 points. And when Orlando seemed to have some life at the close of the third period, the Washington bench refrained from backing down.

Playing four to five bench players on the floor for the entire length of the quarter, the bench scored 30 points in the final quarter. They were a plus-10 the final 12 minutes of the game, cutting off any opening of a Magic rally.

Missing just one of his eight shots, Scott is shooting 63-of-88 (71.6 percent) from the field in his last 10 games. Ian Mahinmi played a strong 22 minutes, scoring nine points while pulling down four rebounds and two steals. Brooks was able to empty the bench late, playing all 13 players in the game.

More importantly, their efforts especially in the fourth quarter allowed the starters to rest and capped Wall and Beal’s minutes at 31 and 30, respectively. A night after nothing was working, Saturday’s win was a complete team effort. One can only hope they can continue to play this well more consistently.

Now, off to Boston…

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