The Washington Wizards used an inspirational speech from coach Flip Saunders as momentum to snap a 25-game road losing streak in their most recent victory.
It may take more than that to halt their slide against the Orlando Magic.
Orlando shoots for a season sweep and sixth consecutive victory against visiting Washington on Wednesday night.
The Magic (35-21) are coming off arguably their biggest win of the season, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 89-75 on Sunday. Dwight Howard(notes) had 31 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando, which had lost its previous eight games against teams with a winning record.
“This was kind of to prove to ourselves that we can beat the best teams in the NBA,” said forward Ryan Anderson(notes), who hit three 3-pointers. “It was a must-win for us in a sense that we haven’t been playing well against good teams.”
The biggest contribution came from Howard, who had his 14th straight double-double and is averaging 24.8 points and 16.1 rebounds while shooting 63.6 percent during that stretch.
“The way we played (Sunday) is the way we have to play if we want to be considered a great team,” Howard said. “If we continue to do that, there’s no doubt in my mind we have what it takes to win a championship.”
Howard has posted a double-double in all three wins against the Wizards this season, including 22 points and 15 rebounds in a 110-92 victory Feb. 4 in the teams’ last meeting.
Orlando is 9-1 in its last 10 against teams with a sub-.500 record, which may not bode well for Washington (15-38).
The Wizards won for only the second time in 11 tries Sunday, beating lowly Cleveland 115-100 for its first road win this season. Nick Young(notes) scored 31 points and John Wall(notes) added 19 and 14 assists.
Saunders said he wasn’t sure how his team would respond to his speech Sunday, especially after Washington’s 118-94 loss to San Antonio the previous night in which it trailed by as many as 41 points.
“I really didn’t know,” Saunders said. “Our guys were extremely quiet. I thought we were going to play really good or we were going to play really bad.”
“It was like a clip from “Any Given Sunday,” and we rallied up from that,” Blatche said. “We finally got that road win.”
A victory may prove to be more difficult in Orlando, where the Wizards have lost five of six and won nine of 43 all-time.