Dave Johnson: Wizards Fizzle After Fast Start

Dave Johnson: Wizards Fizzle After Fast Start
March 14, 2010, 3:42 am
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Saturday, March 13, 9:40pm

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashignton.comWashington---Against the Orlando Magic, better was just not good enough for the Washington Wizards. With turnovers under control and a dynamic start the Wizards gave themselves a chance but were overwhelmed by a Magic team with more options in a 109-95 loss.It was a dream beginning for the Wizards who responded to the challenge of playing their third game in as many nights by outscoring the Magic in the first quarter 33-20. The Wizards closed the quarter on an impressive 16-2 run over 4:22 and made seven of their final nine shots.Off the bench Fabricio Oberto played a role in the Wizards late first quarter surge. Oberto not only challenged the Magics Dwight Howard but helped the offense with decisive passes and effective screens. In addition Andray Blatche scored 15 of his team high 32-points in the opening quarter.Blatche is very, very good because he can get that shot off over the top any time he wants, said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. He can score in the post. He can put the ball on the floor. Hes a tough matchup. We were prepared to put Dwight on him down the stretch if we needed to. I thought we worked harder on him in the second half but hes a force down there.Dwight Howard is very much a force for the Magic and the Wizards really didnt have an answer for him. Howard led the Magic with 28-points and 14-rebounds including 11- points, five rebounds, and four assists in the pivotal second quarter when the Magic outscored the Wizards 41-22.As much as Howard helped in that second, the real credit for the Magic ability to take control of the game before half-time was the play off the bench especially J.J. Reddick and Brandon Bass.Reddick finished with 18-points and his ability to penetrate and challenge the Wizards defense put him at the free throw line where he was six for six. Bass added 16-points and nine rebounds and was strong at making cuts to the basket and finding open seams when the Wizards went to a 2-3 zone.I thought when Orlandos bench came in during the second quarter and they changed the game, said Wizards coach Flip Saunders. (JJ) Redick and (Brandon) Bass really hurt us a lot. Our main guys tonight at times played well together. During that stretch in the second quarter we didnt have great bench play and were playing behind the eight-ball from that point on.So the great start was wiped out in the second quarter, but the Wizards only trailed 61-55 at halftime. The Magic then opened the second half on a 7-0 run and forced the Wizards to really chase the game.There is no question that we got fatigued, Saunders said. It seemed at halftime we came into rest and started thinking how much we have been playing. It was like we didnt have any juice to start the second half. With 2:05 left in the third quarter the Wizards JaVale McGee was able to slap the ball away from a driving Bass and that led to a transition jump shot by Shaun Livingstron from 17-feet that cut the Magic lead to ten points at 84-74.It was as close as the Wizards would get, but still it was Livingstons best outing in his eight games with the Wizards. Livingston finished with 18-points and 8-assists and in those heady times in the first quarter even had a gliding drive to the basket that was reminiscent of Livingston before he suffered his knee injuries in 2007.I feel that he has a very high basketball I.Q. and seems to calm everyone on the floor down, Saunders said of Livingston. He also has great size so he can back anyone down and get a shot off. He has been playing well when he has been on the floor. I expect a lot out of my point guards. I think he is a natural point guard.The Wizards only had ten turnovers on the night and only made one fewer field goal than the Magic (41-40) but the Magic made six more three-pointers and six more free throws to keep the Wizards at a distance,