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Wall, Wizards waltz past Magic

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Artistic excellence is not a phrase often associated with the Washington Wizards' offense this season. With John Wall back and the team playing a sharing-is-caring brand of basketball, perhaps a new day is dawning in the nation's capital.

Emeka Okafor had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the Wizards defeated the Orlando Magic 120-91 Monday night for their third straight win.

The Wizards (7-28) set season highs for total points, field-goal percentage (56.1 percent), assists (32), points in a quarter (37) and largest margin of victory en route to their first three-game winning streak since closing last season with six consecutive victories.

"Offensively, that was a beautiful thing tonight to watch that," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The ball movement, and you can just see everybody feed off it."

Coming off the bench in his second game of the season, Wall scored 12 points in 20 minutes, dished out six assists, made all six of his free-throw attempts and helped direct Washington's 37-point third quarter.

"Everybody is scoring, we're moving the ball, and we're trusting each other," said Wall, who returned to the lineup Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks after missing Washington's first 33 games with a knee injury.

The Wizards entered Monday's game as the only NBA team averaging fewer than 90 points per game this season.

Kevin Seraphin and A.J. Price, two of a season-high six Wizards in double figures, each scored 18 points. Bradley Beal had 17 points and Jan Vesely 10 for the Wizards, who made 21 of 25 free throws.

Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, was asked if his return was the primary return for the team's improved play.

"I'm not going to say I'm that important," he said. "I just feel like I'm a big key missing to the piece."

Jameer Nelson led the Magic (13-24) with 19 points and 12 assists. Despite a win on Saturday over the Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando has lost 11 of 12 games.

Orlando's Glen Davis, in his first action since spraining his left shoulder against Washington on Dec. 19, scored 13 points in 18 minutes.

"We just didn't accept the challenge on defense tonight," Davis said. "They got too many layups. ... We didn't come to play tonight."

Washington, owner of the NBA's worst record, led by 19 points in the first half, but Orlando rallied with a 15-2 run over the final 2:16 of the second quarter to pull within 59-53 at halftime.

Unlike earlier games during their largely gloomy season, the Wizards stayed poised, and by the end of the third, they led 96-77. Wall assisted or scored on Washington's final three baskets of the quarter, including a feed to Seraphin for a dunk after a spectacular cross-over dribble left Orlando's Ish Smith behind.

Taking a page from the speedy distributor's presence, the running Wizards scored a season-high 29 fast-break points. Garrett Temple's 3-pointer in the final minute of the game gave Washington a 31-point lead, its largest advantage of the season.

"(Wall) creates tempo, and everyone else is able to feed off that," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "And I think at half it was 19-1 transition points. That's tough to overcome."

Even before Wall's return, the Wizards starting showing signs of improvement. On Jan. 4, Washington lost to the Brooklyn Nets in double overtime. The Wizards stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 7, the first game of the current winning streak.

Okafor's third double-double in as many games started with 13 points and nine rebounds in the first half before the crowd of 14,648.

After scoring a season-high 30 against the Clippers, Magic guard Arron Afflalo missed his first eight shots, finished 1-for-11 and scored two points.

Washington dominated much of the first half and led 57-38 following Wall's free throws with 2:16 remaining.

Nelson almost singlehandedly orchestrated the Magic's late second-quarter spurt with 10 points. He hit two 3-pointers and set up the final basket at the buzzer with a backcourt steal.

"We had the stretch at the end of the first half which usually spells disaster for us," Wittman said. "I told the guys we let it slip away, and now we got to win the game again. They came out and did it."

NOTES: Washington made all 15 of its first-half free throws. ...The Wizards played without leading scorer Jordan Crawford (sore left ankle) and forward Trevor Booker (sprained left ankle). ... Without Davis in the lineup, the Magic went 1-10. ... Orlando guard E'Twaun Moore was active for the first time in seven games after missing time due to a sprained left elbow. He scored five points in 16 minutes. ... The Wizards play at Sacramento on Wednesday, the start of a nine-day, five-game Western road swing. Orlando hosts Indiana on Wednesday.
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