4 in a row
Still a few games away from the halfway mark of the 2022-23 regular season, opinions may remain mixed about just how good the Wizards are and can be. But one thing is absolutely for certain; they are streaky.
They lost 10 straight games not long ago, but have now responded by winning five of six, including four in a row. That ties their season-high winning streak.
They aren't just winning, either, they are demolishing teams. They beat the Suns by 25 points on Wednesday, then turned around to beat the Magic by 19 points in a game they led by 30.
While the Wizards were missing Bradley Beal for the second straight game, the Magic were down a large chunk of their rotation due to suspensions from their team-wide altercation with the Pistons on Wednesday night. Moe Wagner, Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr. all sat out, leaving Orlando with eight available players.
Washington improved to 16-21 on the season with the latest win. They still have some climbing to do in order to undo the damage of their 10-game losing streak, but as of the end of this game they are only a half-game back from the final play-in spot.
Porzingis was on one
After two games out due to illness and an uneven performance in his first game back, Kristaps Porzingis put in two 20-point games before this one. It turns out he was just warming up, as he caught fire against the Magic, dropping 30 points for the game, including 20 in the first half. By halftime, Porzingis had 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks all in 16 minutes. He had 15 points in the second quarter. Porzingis had 13 boards and four blocks for the game. Daniel Gafford also had four blocks and he and Porzingis became the first Wizards/Bullets teammates with four-plus blocks and eight-plus rebounds in a game since 1987.
Porzingis also had a few Kornet Contests. The Wizards assigned Porzingis to defend Magic guard Markelle Fultz for much of the night with the strategy of giving him space to shoot from the perimeter, as Fultz is a sub-30% 3-point shooter for his career. Porzingis, though, was still able to deter his outside shots by taking a page out of Luke Kornet's playbook.
Contributions from the young guys
The future for the Wizards looked bright in this particular game, as their three first-round picks from the 2019 to 2021 drafts were standouts. Rui Hachimura (2019) kept it rolling with another strong scoring night off the bench, dropping 16 points with seven rebounds. Deni Avdija (2020) found a rhythm early to score 13 points with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. And Corey Kispert (2021) had 11 points and five rebounds, shooting 3-for-6 from three.
All three of them had their best traits on display. Hachimura brought scoring and infused the Wizards' offense with speed and energy, while Avdija did a little bit of everything and Kispert knocked down outside shots to space the floor. If they can do those things consistently, this game was evidence of the type of impact they could make.
Turnovers kept Orlando in it
The Wizards thoroughly dominated the Magic, yet there is reason to believe it could have been much, much worse for Orlando. That's because Washington had a season-high 26 turnovers, including 10 in the first half and seven in the first 13 minutes of the game. Much like their win over the Sixers on Tuesday, the Wizards couldn't control the ball early before tightening things up in the second half.
Turnovers is really the only category the Wizards struggled in against the Magic. They outrebounded Orlando 53-to-35, they held them to 5-for-27 (18.5%) shooting from three and made 20 free throws compared to 11 for the Magic. The Wizards hadn't won a game with this many turnovers since 1994.
Beal remains out
Beal has now missed two games due to his left hamstring soreness and, while he was a game-time decision on Wednesday against the Suns, the news came out earlier this time around. The Wizards evidently had a better idea of his status entering this game.
Beal was listed as questionable before he was ruled out, which generally means a player isn't far off from playing. The Wizards also have only two games over the next week, so if he does need a few more days he may not miss much more time overall.