Wizards get crushed by steamrolling Magic, 121-94

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010

ORLANDO -- Fabricio Oberto thought Mike Miller was open near the foul line, so he didn't have any problem lobbing a pass his direction with only two seconds left in the third quarter. What seemed like a harmless outlet pass quickly turned into a deflating mishap for the Washington Wizards, when Orlando Magic forward Matt Barnes deflected the ball and reserve Jason Williams tracked it down, flung the ball toward the basket and watched it splash through the net.

It was Williams's second three-pointer in just two seconds, which gave the Magic a 19-point lead going into the fourth quarter. The Wizards had nothing left for the final frame, as they lost 121-94 before a sellout crowd at Amway Arena.

"That kind of took the air out of the balloon," Nick Young said of Williams's back-to-back, back-breaking three-pointers. "That hurt a little bit."

The Wizards played their final game at Amway Arena on Wednesday, with the Magic set to move into a new downtown arena next season. Whether they were known as Bullets or Wizards, the franchise had little success in this antiquated building, winning just 10 times in 42 games here.

The last victory came on Feb. 5, when Caron Butler had his final shining moment for the organization in leading the team to a 92-91 victory. Butler helped the Wizards come back from a 21-point deficit by scoring 29 of his game-high 31 points in the second half, including the game-winner with 0.5 of a second remaining.

With an almost completely different team taking the court on Wednesday, the Wizards didn't have much of a chance against the Magic, which hit 13 three-pointers and provided several highlight dunks in a game that quickly got out of control in the second half. Orlando's bench outscored the Wizards, 65-37.

Andray Blatche (13 points) had a driving dunk to bring the Wizards within 68-61 with 3 minutes 30 seconds left in the third period, but the Magic pulled away with an 18-4 run, sparked by Williams. He fed Dwight Howard for an alley-oop lob and gave the Magic a 16-point lead when he buried a three-pointer with two seconds remaining in period. His final three-pointer pushed the Magic ahead, 84-65.

"That might have been a bad pass," Oberto said of his turnover. "They were hitting shots. that's how it is."

Howard started the fourth quarter with a jumper to give Orlando a 21-point lead. But unlike their last trip to Orlando, the Wizards didn't have Butler or Randy Foye around to help bail them out. The Wizards (24-54) were seeking three consecutive wins for the first time in two years, but faced a more challenging opponent than New Jersey or Golden State.

Howard led seven Magic players in double figures with 17 points. He also added 10 rebounds and blocked three shots. The Magic (55-23) has already secured the Southeast Division and the second seed in the Eastern Conference, but it is chasing the Los Angeles Lakers for the league's second-best record, which would give them homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals if top overall seed Cleveland is eliminated in the postseason.

Young continued to play well, as he followed up his season-high 29 point performance against Golden State by scoring a game-high 21 points. It was the first time since late November that Young had consecutive 20-point games. But Blatche had a difficult night from the floor, with Howard and Rashard Lewis combining to fluster him into missing 14 of his 19 field goal attempts.

"It was a transition coming from the Nets to the Warriors to Orlando," Blatche said. "They got the most dominant big man in the league. He's good at protecting the rim. That's a great overall team. I don't think we were as aggressive as we should've been. I know I wasn't. I was settling too much when I should've been attacking the rim."

Al Thornton returned after missing the previous seven games with a strained right hip flexor, but he looked noticeably rusty after missing nearly two weeks of action. Thornton missed all four of his field goal attempts in 13 minutes. "I think the main thing is I don't have any type of basketball rhythm," Thornton said.

Miller had 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Wizards.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company