Magic return home to face Wizards


After being ravaged by injuries and illness on a five-game trip, the Orlando Magic return home Wednesday night to play the Washington Wizards.

Sunday, the shorthanded Magic were on the way to defeating the Denver Nuggets before letting an 18-point first-half lead slip away in a 119-109 loss.

“It was definitely fun to see those guys and compete against those guys,” said rookie R.J. Hampton, who played against his former team for the first time since being dealt from Denver to Orlando with Gary Harris and a future first-round draft pick for Aaron Gordon. “They’re a great basketball team.”

Hampton scored 16 points against the Nuggets, but Gordon countered with 24 points to lead Denver, which outscored Orlando 72-44 in the second half.

Still, the Magic picked up wins over the Clippers and Pelicans on their 2-3 trip and hung tough in a three-point loss to the Lakers as they continue to evaluate their younger, revamped roster post-NBA trade deadline.

Orlando is 2-4 since dealing Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier in separate deals to acquire Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., and two future first-round draft picks.

Porter Jr. (left-foot injury) and Harris (strained left abductor) were among several Orlando players sidelined against the Nuggets. Cole Anthony (ribs), Michael Carter-Williams (illness), Karim Mane (hamstring) and Markelle Fultz (torn ACL in left knee) also were out.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever been through before as a head coach or an assistant,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

The Wizards, meantime, hope to have Bradley Beal, the NBA’s leading scorer at 31.3 points per game, back in their starting lineup Wednesday when they play the second game of their six-game road trip.

Without Beal on Monday night, the Wizards cooled off after a hot-shooting start and blew a 19-point, second-half lead in a 103-101 loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tampa.

Beal warmed up before the game but ended up missing his fifth consecutive game due to a right-hip contusion, and Washington lost its fourth in a row. Daniel Gafford also was out for the fourth consecutive game with a right-ankle sprain and Rui Hachimura missed his second game in a row with right-shoulder tightness on Monday.

Russell Westbrook led Washington with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his 19th triple-double of the season, although he made just nine of 25 shots. Davis Bertans, whom Wizards coach Scott Brooks said was on a minutes restriction in his second game back from a calf strain, had 17 points and shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range.

Teammate Garrison Mathews came off the bench and hit four 3-pointers, scoring 17 points.

“They get shots when the ball gets to them, and we’ll continue to make the plays as the game goes along,” Brooks said. “But we’re not running around trying to find, get them open shots. So whenever they get their shots, they’ll get them. And then they’ll shoot them.”

But Washington finished 12-of-35 from 3-point range, missing 14 of its final 15 attempts.

“Couldn’t make shots, simple as that,” Brooks said. “I don’t know what we were from three in the second half, but it wasn’t like the first half.”

In the only other meetings of the Magic and Wizards this season, Orlando swept a back-to-back on Dec. 26-27, despite Beal scoring 39 and 29 points in Washington, D.C.

–Field Level Media

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