The Orlando Magic are the only NBA team this season to defeat every other club in the league. Winning against the lowly Washington Wizards, however, has been surprisingly difficult for the Southeast Division champs.
One night after clinching their third straight division title, the Magic continue their three-game homestand Wednesday when they face a Wizards team trying to win three straight for the first time in almost exactly two years.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of fight until everything went down,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy of a third-quarter shoving match that started when Barnes was called for an offensive foul on the Grizzlies’ rookie center. “And then we got a little bit of fight.”
With the victory, Orlando became the only club to defeat each opponent in the NBA this season. If Dallas loses to Portland on Friday, the Magic will remain the only team to accomplish that feat. Orlando also clinched its third straight Southeast crown Tuesday when second-place Atlanta lost 109-100 in Charlotte.
“Everybody thinks that they can beat everybody in this league, and they’ll talk about it,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve literally done it.”
Washington nearly prevented Van Gundy from making that statement. After dropping the first two meetings with the Wizards, Orlando needed to rally from a 15-point first-half deficit to post a 109-95 victory in the nation’s capital March 13. On Wednesday, Washington has a chance to win the season series with Orlando for the first time since 1996-97.
Looking to salvage a split of the season series and win their fifth straight overall at Amway Arena, the Magic will try to prevent Washington (24-53) from its first consecutive road wins since Nov. 27-Dec. 1.
With four players scoring 20 points or more for the first time since December 2007, the Wizards capped off a 2-1 homestand Tuesday with their second straight victory, 112-94 over Golden State. Washington - 3-1 since a 16-game slide - now has a chance to win three in a row for the first time since April 4-9, 2008.
“What’s that? We’ve won three out of four is it?” Andray Blatche(notes) said after scoring 21 points. “It feels good to win three out of four, I ain’t going to lie, man, to go out there and play with energy, effort. We’re all playing with a meaning now.”
Orlando star Dwight Howard(notes), who had 20 points and 18 rebounds in the Feb. 5 matchup, is averaging 22.0 points, 16.7 boards and 2.3 blocks in the Magic’s last three home games versus the Wizards.