Nikola Vucevic helps Magic beat Wizards 117-108
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — D.J. Augustin was the Orlando Magic’s closer in a 117-108 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Augustin came up with six points, two assists and a steal Friday night after Washington had cut a 25-point deficit to one at 106-105 with 2:30 remaining.
“We lost the game the other night because we didn’t finish the game,” Augustin said. “We know we can’t let up and have to keep fighting to the end. It’s the NBA. Teams can come back because there are great players on the floor.”
Aaron Gordon added 20 points for Orlando, which shot 51 percent in beating Washington for only the fourth time in their last 21 meetings. Evan Fournier and rookie Mo Bamba had 15 points each, and Augustin finished with 11.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points, and John Wall had 19 points and 12 assists. Washington fell to 2-9, but not until falling just short on a furious comeback after trailing 85-60 late in the third quarter. The Wizards played the entire fourth quarter with three guards and forwards Jeff Green and Kelly Oubre Jr.
“No lead in this league is safe,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “They had a lot of firepower on the floor. Wall got going, they downsized and spread us out and that’s their best defensive team.”
“I don’t know if going small was the difference or just giving the appropriate effort and giving yourself a chance,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “With great effort, you give yourself a chance. You give yourself a chance to make them miss, you give yourself a chance for things going your way.”
After Washington pulled within one, Augustin hit a 3-pointer and assisted Terrence Ross’ layup. Then, after Augustin’s backcourt steal, Fournier hit another 3-pointer for a 114-105 lead.
After making eight of their first 11 shots and taking a nine-point lead, the Wizards were outscored 45-18 over the next 13 1/2 minutes.
“We retaliated but it was a little too late,” Beal said.
“It took a lot of energy to get back in the game, but if we put ourselves in that kind of hole we’ve got to fight ourselves out,” said Green. “I think we’ve got to stay away from all the negative activity that’s going around and continue to focus on the things we can control, and that’s energy and effort.”
SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE
The game matched the NBA’s lowest-scoring team (Magic, 101.3 points per game) against a Wizards team giving up the most point (120.5 per game). “Obviously we haven’t played the defense that we have to play,” said Brooks.
Rashard Lewis, who played with Howard on the Magic team that made it to the NBA Finals in 2009, was honored as part of the franchise’s 30th anniversary celebration. Lewis, who last played in the NBA in 2014, lives in Houston and plays in Big3, which he described as “perfect for guys who don’t want to be thrown into retirement.”
Wizards: Beal exceeded 20 points for the seventh time this season. . . . The Wizards have lost six straight road games.
Magic: F Jonathan Isaac missed his fourth game with an ankle injury. . . . Of the 24 players who played in the Magic-Wizards regular-season finale six months ago, only nine played Friday night.
Wizards: At Miami on Saturday night.
Magic: At New York on Sunday night.