National Basketball Association

Wizards host Magic in a clash of styles, speeds

nba2MAGIC (8-11) AT WIZARDS (6-12)
7 p.m. ET; FS-F, NBCSWA

A pedestrian-speed offense encounters a defense with no stop signs when the Orlando Magic (+2) duel the Washington Wizards (-2) for the second time this season Tuesday, this time on the Wizards’ home court.

Both teams are coming off games that were symbolic of their seasons so far.

The Magic needed two free throws in the final seconds just to reach triple digits, but it was enough to beat visiting Golden State 100-96 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Wizards ran up 125 points on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers (-9) later that same day, but that was 25 points fewer than the home team in a 150-125 loss.

The teams met Nov. 17 in Orlando in a game played at the Wizards’ pace. The Magic used a season-high-tying 15 3-pointers to produce a season-high point total in a 125-121 win.

Fittingly for an Orlando win, the game was decided by a defensive play, with the Magic’s Markelle Fultz turning a late steal into a dunk and a three-point play that allowed the home team to hold on.

“You live for moments like that when the game is on the line and you’re out competing to see what everybody is made of,” Fultz told reporters after the game. “I love it that I got a chance to make a big-time play and I finished it off.”

Evan Fournier had five 3-pointers in the win, and was even one better (6 of 10) in Sunday’s win over Golden State, when the Magic hit one-third of their treys (11 of 33) in the narrow win.

Despite that, Orlando was limited to 100 or fewer points for the fourth time in its past six games.

The Wizards haven’t held anybody under 113 in their past 12 games. They just arrived home from a four-game western swing in which the opposition averaged 131.0 points.

Washington managed to win one of the games — 140-132 at Phoenix — and hope that Isaiah Thomas can build momentum off a nice run.

The veteran point guard, who played just 12 games last season while recovering from hip surgery, averaged 12.7 points in the last three games of the trip, capped by a 16-point effort Sunday against the Clippers in which he made three of his six 3-point shots.

He missed all three of his 3-point attempts in the earlier loss to Orlando, a game in which Washington came up short despite bombing in 19 triples, including six by C.J. Miles and five each by Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans.

“Physically I’m good,” Thomas assured reporters during the trip. “It’s going to take me a while to get my actual feel and rhythm back. Some games, I play really good, some games … I just don’t have it. But the feel, that’s the last part of it coming together for me.”

Thomas has scored in double figures in each of his past 12 meetings with the Magic, topped by a 35-point effort for Boston in March 2017.

Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who had three 3-pointers to complement 30 points and 17 rebounds in the first meeting, remains out of action for Orlando with a sprained ankle.

–Field Level Media

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