This time, the Wizards battled back to get a lead and kept it.
This time, they made key stops and key buckets when the game was on the line.
This time, music blared from the home locker room instead of muffled silence.
For the first time since upsetting the Miami Heat on Dec. 4, Wizards fans left Verizon Center with smiles on their faces after a 105-97 win over the Orlando Magic put the brakes on an eight-game losing skid.
Jordan Crawford matched a season high with 27 points, Nene added a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Seraphin added 17 points and six rebounds as the Wizards won for the first time since Dec. 11 in New Orleans and for the first time at home since Dec. 4 against the Heat.
They are now 4-23 for the season.
“With what this team has gone through since the start of the year, to go down 25-8 and for our guys to not put their heads down and to grind it out, they did it,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
“It just shows the character of these guys. There haven’t been too many nights when I’ve got to worry about are they going to bring it every night.”
The Magic, led by Arron Affalo [26 points] and J.J. Reddick [23 points] lost for the fourth straight time and slipped to 12-17.
It marked just the fifth time this season the Wizards topped the 100-point mark and just the third time they did so without the help of overtime. They did it by shooting 48 percent and they did it after trailing 25-8 in the first quarter.
“It was a great feeling,” said Bradley Beal, who finished with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting. We were down early but we didn’t lose faith or lose confidence in ourselves. We battled back and did all the little things that matter and we ended up sticking together and pulling it out at the end.”
The Magic built leads of 17 in the first quarter and 7 in the second, but the Wizards kept chipping away and carried a 54-51 lead into halftime.
They kept that lead because of the one-two punch of Nene and Seraphin.
On Thursday, Wittman pointed out just how much the Wizards miss Nene when he’s removed from the game and against the Magic on Friday, Seraphin was given an opportunity to fill that void.
He responded with his best offensive game in weeks and credited Nene for demanding more from him.
“He told me it was time to do something,” Seraphin said. “I think that’s a good thing. I carried out everything he told me. I played hard and I fight inside. It feels really good.”
Most importantly, when Nene left the game midway through the third quarter the Wizards were leading 66-61, and when he returned for Seraphin, that lead had grown to 80-72 to start the fourth quarter.
“That’s a big key for us, to be able to do that,” said Wittman, who gave Nene 29:05 of playing time, 4 seconds shy of his season high. “It shows our guys we can do it. It gives me a chance to save some minutes [on Nene] and have him more at the end of the game.”
Crawford shrugged when asked about the Wizards winning for the first time in 17 days, saying they need to get right back to work Saturday night in Chicago when they face the Bulls.
“We’re supposed to win,” Crawford said. “We have good players. People can’t get too happy. We’ve got to do it again and forget about this.”
Dribbles. Wizards guard John Wall participated in another “dummy” practice on Friday without reporting any pain in his left knee. If his progress continues he could begin full practices next week. … Crawford came off the bench on Friday but Wittman said it was not for disciplinary reasons. Crawford sat out the early part of Wednesday night’s loss to Cleveland for showing up late for that day’s shoot-around. … In a humorous interlude late in the third quarter, Orlando’s Jameer Nelson sent a blind pass into the 10th row of seats. A fan caught the ball and threw it to Crawford, who threw it back to the fan before getting a return pass. Meadowlark Lemon would have approved. … The Wizards return to action Saturday night in 15-12 Chicago where they’ll take on the Bulls at 8 p.m.