The land behind the arc was not kind to the Orlando Magic last night as they lost to the Washington Wizards 95-91 at Amway Center.
Jeff Green returned to Orlando after leaving the team two years ago and lit them up, going 6 for 9 from three for 24 points. The Wizards shot 56% from behind the arc and stopped a Magic fourth quarter run with clutch play in the final minutes.
Despite disappointing games from Evan Fournier and DJ Augustine, Nikola Vucevic muscled through with 28 points and 9 rebounds, as well as Aaron Gordon who scored 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The start of the game was not pretty for for the Magic, who shot only 9 for 26 in field goals and 1 for 10 from 3 point land in the first quarter.
Washington was on the second game of a back to back after a nationally televised game against the Golden State Warriors. The Wizards got to their hotel at 4 a.m.
The combination of the two led to only a 24-21 first quarter.
The Magic’s scrappy defense kept the Wizards withinin reach, but the could only manage 17 points in the second, as Jeff Green began to heat up and hit 4 of his 5 3-point attempts and the Wizards got to a 50-38 halftime lead.
The Magic managed to make a push in the third quarter and managed to tie the game at 87 late in the fourth.
Vucevic had a chance to give the Magic the possible win with under a minute left, but he missed both free throws. The Magic defense immediately surrendered a Jeff Green lay up and the Wizards held on in the final seconds.
“I missed two free throws with the game tied with (59.6) seconds left and a chance to win the game. I didn’t come through for my team at the end,’’ said Vucevic, “We fought our way back and we had a chance. I got fouled, two free throws and I should be able to make those. I failed us.’’
Vucevic is Orlando’s lone All-Star candidate and managed to put on a good showing, despite the end of the game.
He has the support of Wizards head coach Scott Brooks on making the All-Star team for the first time in his seven NBA seasons. “He’s playing as well as anybody in the league at his spot,” Brooks said before the game. “He’s made himself a good player and deserves for coaches to vote for him.”
Rookie center Mo Bamba was a bright spot off the Magic bench, contributing six points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots 16 minutes. Two of his three blocks came during a 19-2 burst late in the third period that made it a close game.
Fournier reflected on his tough night. “I could just never get into my rhythm or get into my game,’’ Fournier added. “It feels like I was daydreaming, so it was just a terrible night for me. Not much to say, to be honest.’’
The Magic next travel to Houston to face the red hot James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Sunday.