NBA: Magic face Wizards in search of elusive consecutive victories
The Orlando Magic look for consecutive wins for the first time in almost a month, playing the second leg of a back-to-back on Saturday when they visit the Washington Wizards.
Orlando topped New Orleans 123-110 on Friday behind 30 points from Franz Wagner and 22 points off the bench for Cole Anthony.
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The duo combined to pace a big fourth quarter for the Magic, each knocking down a late-game 3-pointer.
“By Franz getting hot, it allowed me to get hot, too,” Anthony said in his postgame interview with Bally Sports Florida. “It took some pressure off me and my teammates.”
Anthony missed 16 games early in the season, but since coming back on Nov. 30, the Magic are 9-1 when he scores at least 13 points. Wagner’s big game came in spite of sustaining a minor ankle injury earlier in the week.
“I was lucky because we had a few days off. I was able to rest a little bit,” he told Bally Sports Florida in his postgame interview. “The [training] staff got me right, so I was good to go.”
Orlando has no time for rest heading into Washington, seeking consecutive wins for the first time since beating Houston on Dec. 21 and San Antonio on Dec. 23.
Washington scored a 116-105 victory at New York on Wednesday, just the Wizards’ second win in their last seven outings. Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis both recorded double-doubles with 27 points and 13 rebounds, and 22 points with 11 boards.
Wednesday also marked the return of Bradley Beal to the lineup, who missed the previous five straight and eight of the Wizards’ last nine due to a hamstring injury. The one game he played during that stretch, Jan. 3 at Milwaukee, he logged just 13:18 of playing time.
“Hopefully, this is us going forward,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said at media availability during the Wizards’ practice on Friday. “[Beal] is healthy, he looks good, so hopefully, we’ll develop more chemistry and our corps can improve.”
Beal scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor against the Knicks, grabbed four rebounds and dished four assists.
“Having Brad back makes a huge difference,” Porzingis said on Friday. “We play more disciplined when he’s out there. … He kind of sets the standard.”
Beal has played in 25 of Washington’s 45 games. The Wizards are 11-12 when he has played more than 20 minutes, and just 8-14 when Beal has either been sidelined or limited to fewer than 20 minutes.
Washington also got a boost from Rui Hachimura’s return to the lineup. In 13 games since rejoining the rotation on Dec. 22, the Wizards are 7-6, and Hachimura has averaged 13.5 points per game in those contests despite going scoreless on Wednesday.
Hachimura’s presence gives depth to a Washington frontcourt with Porzingis and Kuzma averaging 22.2 and 21.7 points with 8.8 and 7.6 rebounds per game.
–Field Level Media
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