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Wizards shoot for season sweep of Magic

Sportsnaut
Mar 29, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA;  Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) shoots as Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (44) looks on during the second half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards are on the verge of sweeping the Orlando Magic for the fourth time in nine seasons.

Washington (32-43) hosts Orlando (20-56) on Wednesday night in the fourth and final meeting between the Southeast Division rivals. The Wizards scored 100-plus points while winning each of the previous three games, including a home-and-home set on Jan. 9 and Jan. 12.

Washington swept Orlando in the 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, taking 12 straight in the series, though the Magic had won six of the past seven before this season. Orlando has lost on 15 of its past 20 trips to Washington.

The Wizards are in the midst of a four-game homestand that began with a 123-115 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Rookie Corey Kispert sank a career-high six 3-pointers and scored a career-best 25 points.

Washington was back on the floor Tuesday in a 107-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Chicago led by five after the first quarter; and, though the Wizards took the lead briefly in the third quarter, the Bulls were in charge for most of the night.

Washington’s Deni Avdija told NBC Sports Washington, “They got rolling, but it’s just knowing the personnel and don’t let them get going from the beginning of the game and don’t let them start like that. Then it’s really hard.

“NBA players, especially good ones, (it’s) really hard to stop them after they heat up,” Avdija said. “They were heating up in the beginning of the game, and it’s hard to stop them when the time comes.”

The Wizards got a double-double on Tuesday from Kristaps Porzingis, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The 7-foot-3 center is averaging 20.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks since his Washington debut on March 6 after he was acquired from the Dallas Mavericks.

Washington’s Kyle Kuzma remains sidelined due to right knee tendinitis. Kuzma totaled 63 points and 42 rebounds during the previous three games against the Magic this season.

Orlando, which will wrap up a two-game road trip, has dropped three in a row overall. The Magic are coming off a 107-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, a result that lowered their record to 7-9 since the All-Star break.

The Magic had six reserves play at least 18 minutes apiece against Cleveland, and Ignas Brazdeikis tied his season high with 13 points. Markelle Fultz added 11 points in 19 minutes and Admiral Schofield scored a season-high 10 points in 20 minutes as Orlando rallied from a 20-point, first-half deficit before coming up short.

Free throws — too few for Orlando, too many for the opponents — have been a big part of the Magic’s problem during the current slide.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Cleveland combined to go 64 of 77 at the foul line compared with 27 of 36 for Orlando.

“Again, the one thing that we’ll have to continue to talk about is defending without fouling,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said postgame Monday. “We put them (the Cavaliers) on the line 23 times and obviously that’s with swipe-downs and reaching at the ball. We’ve gotta make sure we continue to do a better job of being in position versus reaching.”

Orlando’s Wendell Carter Jr. (sprained left wrist) and rookie guard Jalen Suggs (bruised right ankle) will be sidelined for the Washington game. Carter had 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against Cleveland following a two-game injury absence, while Suggs is due to miss his eighth consecutive game.

–Field Level Media