The Washington Wizards go for their third straight win when they visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
The undermanned Wizards are coming off a homestand that featured wins over the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and, on Monday night, the Boston Celtics.
One of the losses came at the hands of the Magic, 122-101 on New Year’s Day.
Since then, though, they have won two of three to build hope for a promising finish in 2020.
Both the Magic and Wizards are getting a scoring boost from the point guard spot.
Markelle Fultz sparked 15-1 run in the middle of the fourth quarter and finished with a career-best 25 points as the Magic rallied past the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 on Monday.
The 21-year-old No. 1 pick of the 2017 draft scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a very dynamic driver, he’s very athletic for his position and this is what he does every night, to be honest,” teammate Evan Fournier said of Fultz. “There was an open lane and he took it twice, and I think that shot in the corner was the fruit of his work and his confidence as a shooter. His game is growing and he’s becoming more and more confident out there.”
Fultz made 11 of 20 shots (both career highs) and 2 of 5 from 3-point range. He added five rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes. Fultz’s previous career high in scoring was 20 points in a 127-120 win at Washington on Dec. 3.
“The biggest thing is that I took the time to get healthy, I’m feeling very good and my body is feeling good,” said Fultz, who was hampered by a shoulder injury during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. “That’s the biggest thing — that I took the time to make sure that my shoulder is right and that everything in my body is right.”
D.J. Augustin added 16 points as the Magic improved to 14-1 in games where they either led or were tied after three periods.
The Wizards got another strong performance from backup point guard Ish Smith, who scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards defeated the visiting Celtics 99-94 on Monday night to cap a 3-3 homestand.
Jordan McRae added 19 points for Washington and Isaiah Thomas scored 17 against his former team.
The Wizards were again without shooting guard Bradley Beal (lower right leg soreness), who missed his third straight game, as well as Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans.
Smith’s effort followed up on his career-high 32 points, on 15-for-24 shooting, in Saturday’s win over Denver.
“Ish is doing what Ish does,” McRae said. “We’ve been going through droughts where we can’t score. Him being the point guard, him being the leader that he is, he’s taken it upon himself.”
The 31-year-old Smith has played with 11 NBA teams, including the Magic. He joined the Wizards last July to back up starter Thomas, with John Wall expected to miss the entire season.
Monday night, Smith was serenaded with “MVP” chants at Capital One Arena.
“I was so tired, I don’t even remember. I was trying to catch my breath,” Smith said. “Last time that happened was probably high school. For me, I just play.
“Now we’re playing against a team next in Orlando who has kind of beaten us down the last three games. We’ll have some extra incentive, but they play hard, they play well, they play smart. Hopefully, we go in with some confidence after this one.”
–Field Level Media