Magic bring season to 13-9 with win against Wizards

Questions were buzzing before the Orlando Magic entered Wednesday’s matchup at the Amway Center. The Magic, who lost their last four games, two by 20 points or more, have been struggling as of late, dealing with injuries to key players.

The Magic got a visit from a team who has been struggling even more lately and hasn’t been able to beat Orlando in their last seven meetings, the Washington Wizards. Minus a few late game runs by Washington in the fourth quarter, Orlando managed to hang on and find the remedy it desperately needed, beating the Wizards 109 to 103, ending their four game skid.

“It’s frustrating to me as a coach because I can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong,” said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. “The hard thing tonight was we couldn’t run anything; we couldn’t get into our offense. I thought our composure was fine; we’re just struggling to take care of the ball. We still have to get a lot better but I think what getting the win does is it allows you to get your mind on getting better.”

Orlando relied on bench players Chris Duhon and JJ Redick to step in and take the starting spots of point guard Jameer Nelson and shooting guard Jason Richardson in Wednesday night’s game. The usual pair of starting guards for the Magic sat on the bench and missed yet another game due to injury. Nelson is missing his third straight game after suffering from concussion-like symptoms in last Friday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Richardson will be sitting out his second consecutive game due to what officials are calling a bone bruise on his left knee.

Shooting guard JJ Redick proved effective in his starting role showing an immediate spark when the game started. Leading all Magic players by seven points in the first quarter and helping the team to a 25 to 20 lead after the first quarter.

“JJ played really well and has for a long time,” said Van Gundy. “He didn’t get a lot of shots up but we were able to execute with him on the floor. People may rise up over him and make shots but he’s not going to make many mistakes.”

Redick finished the game with 21 points, which included a trio of three pointers, two rebounds, and two assists for the Magic. He also nailed all eight of his free throws and shot five of seven from the field.

“The main thing I’ve been telling JJ is to stay aggressive coming off screens looking for his shot. He has a great shot,” said Magic center Dwight Howard.

Howard had a strong game for the Magic, recording his 17th double-double of the season. He scored 21 points, shooting five of nine and pulling down 18 rebounds. Howard also had a good night from the free throw line, shooting 69 percent on 11 of 16 attempts.

“It was a little rough for us tonight, but in the end we got a win and that’s the only thing that matters,” said Howard. “The four or five game stretch where we weren’t playing great basketball happens to everybody in the league. We just have to remind ourselves that were a good team and that we’re going to have rough patches. We have to stay together and can’t allow anything to separate us.”

With Wednesday’s win against the Wizards the Magic now improve to 13-9 on the season. Their next game will be Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Orlando.