Wizards Survive Without Nene, Beat Magic Behind Wall’s 27
WASHINGTON — John Wall scored 27 points, and the must-make-playoffs Washington Wizards survived their first game after Nene’s latest injury, beating the road-hapless Orlando Magic 115-106 Tuesday night.
Trevor Ariza added 22 points and hit all five of his 3-point attempts, and Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who made 10 of 16 3-pointers and have won a season-high four in a row to move one game above .500. They also improved to 2-6 this season without Nene, who sprained the MCL in his left knee Sunday in a 96-83 win at Cleveland.
Victor Oladipo scored 26 points for the Magic, who tied a single-season franchise record by losing their 16th consecutive road game. They remain without leading scorer Arron Afflalo, who missed his second game with a sprained right ankle.
In case there was any thought that Nene’s injury would give the Wizards a convenient excuse to miss the postseason for the sixth straight year, owner Ted Leonsis began the day with a wakeup call via his blog, posting “Our goals have not changed in any way” and that the team must overcome injuries and “whatever else comes our way.”
Leonsis has made it clear that another year in the NBA lottery would not be acceptable. The Wizards sit in fifth place in the weak Eastern Conference, and coach Randy Wittman and team president Ernie Grunfeld are both in the last season of their contracts.
The Wizards are 60-61 when Nene plays and 9-34 when he doesn’t since he was acquired in a trade two years ago. Washington also played Tuesday’s game without forward Kevin Seraphin, who has a sore right knee.
Trevor Booker started in Nene’s spot and finished with three points and seven rebounds. The team planned to sign Drew Gooden to a 10-day contract in time for the next game, Thursday against the Toronto Raptors.
The Magic are one team that the Wizards can handle without Nene, although Orlando managed to hang around well into the fourth quarter. Wall had 11 straight Wizards points early, and Washington had a 17-point lead in both the second and third quarters, but Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic led an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to six late in the third.
Ariza’s turnaround jumper gave the Wizards a 93-80 lead headed into the fourth. The Magic got as close as eight in the final period, but Ariza got a fortuitous bounce on a 3-pointer to restore a comfortable lead with less than five minutes to play.
Notes: Bradley Beal scored 21 points for Washington, giving the Wizards four 20-point scorers for the first time since April 6, 2010. … The Magic also lost 16 road games in a row in a single season in early 2006. The franchise record over more than one season is 17 — the final 12 road games of last season and the first five of this season. … The Magic had two new faces on the bench. C Dewayne Dedmon and swingman Adonis Thomas signed 10-day deals earlier in the day.
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