Wizards-Magic Preview

The Associated PressMarch 29, 2013

If there's a reason to watch Friday night's matchup between the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic, it may be to see John Wall.

These teams have numerous players unavailable as Wall tries to help the visiting Wizards end a six-game road losing streak against a Magic team that has dropped eight straight.

Washington (26-45) had only eight players available in its last contest while Orlando (18-54) started three rookies among the eight it used in its latest game.

While established veterans such as the Magic's Jameer Nelson and the Wizards' Emeka Okafor will play Friday, Wall figures to be the player to watch. This will mark his first start against the Magic this season as he came off the bench once after missing the first two meetings due to his knee injury.

The third-year guard is averaging 21.5 points in March to rank 11th in the NBA, including a spectacular career-high 47-point effort in Monday's 107-94 home win over Memphis.

His next outing wasn't nearly as successful as he had 18 points but missed 15 of 18 shots Wednesday at Oklahoma City, although he added 12 assists in a 103-80 loss.

Washington was missing Trevor Ariza (flu), Leandro Barbosa (torn left knee ligament), Bradley Beal (sprained left ankle), Nene (sore right knee), Martell Webster (abdominal strain) and A.J. Price (groin).

"We only had eight players," forward Trevor Booker said. "We had Jan (Vesely), he plays the 4 and the 5, he had to play some 3. It was tough but we still fought and we played hard and I'd go to war with those guys any day."

It marked the second straight contest the Wizards had eight players.

"I was as proud of these guys tonight as I was our last game against Memphis," coach Randy Wittman said. "It's not about your wins and losses. It's about how you play. We went out tonight with eight guys and a lot of our key guys down and we battled."

The Magic are probably lacking in sympathy as they are without leading scorer Arron Afflalo (strained right hamstring), rookie Andrew Nicholson (sprained right ankle) and Nikola Vucevic (concussion) with Glen Davis (broken foot) already out.

Second-year forward Tobias Harris joined Nelson and the trio of rookies in the starting lineup in Wednesday's 114-108 defeat at Charlotte. Harris scored a career-high 29 points as Orlando led by 19 points after one quarter before faltering.

"The recipe for us is a 48-minute game," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That's a long time. A lot can happen.''

Vaughn has said he is OK using eight players even though Al Harrington is available. Veteran Hedo Turkoglu did not play Wednesday although he was eligible to return from his 20-game suspension for testing positive for steroids.

The Wizards have won two of three matchups this season, with the home team winning each time.