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Magic Continue Wizards' Slide Of Mediocrity
24 November 1997. Orlando Magic 95, Washington Wizards 87 (record: 4-10)
Game leaders: Webber (29 points), Webber (16 rebounds), Strickland (14 assists)
Is this what it's come down to? (Sorry for the bluntness of the title, but it's true.) The Wizards can't hit the broad side of a barn? Another night shooting below 40% almost always spells doom. And this Magic team is not that good of a defensive team!
If you look at the number above, you go - WOW! Great effort. If the Wizards get 14 assists from Strickland, they must be getting great looks. The problem seems to be that unless Strickland hits an open shooter or a big man for a point blank lay-up, the Wizards can't score consistently.
It was more of the same last night. Cheaney, Howard and Webber shoot 26 of 54 (48.1%), a respectable number. But Strickland, who sprained his left ankle in the first quarter but played on, shot 4 of 15 and Murray shot 5 of 17 (combined 28.1%) and the rest of the team only provided 8 shots. That's not getting your teammates involved.
The Wizards also had no answer for Magic center Rony Seikaly, who finished 10 of 14 on the night with 24 points. Penny Hardaway provided an emotional lift for the Magic in his return, though his shooting was definitely off. The key for the Magic was the energizing play of backup point guard Darrell Armstrong, who made a key steal of Strickland on a Wizards break following a Howard steal with just under 2 minutes remaining. Armstrong took the ball in uncontested for a dunk and turned what could have been a 3-point (or less) lead into a 7-point lead, and the Wizards never got close enough again.
What next for this team? Hard to say. They were tied with the Magic at 80 with 4 minutes remaining, yet struggled the rest of the way, despite CWebb scoring 10 of the Wizards last 15 points. But unlike earlier games against the Jazz, Bulls, and Timberwolves, the Wizards didn't have the necessary horses to score efficiently and defend well. So, the Wizards are to 10 losses faster than expected (even with their tough opening month of the season).
And the next game doesn't get any easier - Wednesday night against the twin towers of the San Antonio Spurs, to whom they lost twice in the preseason.
wtf 25 November 1997
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