Coming off two statement wins against Denver and Boston, among the best teams in the association, the Wizards crashed back to Earth on Wednesday night, losing by 34 to a Magic team that sits two games under .500. The Wizards were out-shot (from the field, three, and the free-throw line) and out-rebounded, had fewer steals and more turnovers than Orlando in the game. They failed to eclipse 100 points on the road for the first time since October.
There’s no other way to put it: We got crushed.
Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic on offense, scoring 29 points (12-20 from the field, 2-3 from three) in 27 minutes and pulling down 9 boards. Orlando outscored Washington by 32 with Vucevic on the court. Evan Fournier scored an efficient 19 points on 7-10 shooting, 4-7 from three.
The Wizards were led by Troy Brown Jr. and Admiral Schofield, who scored 18 apiece, a new career-high for Schofield. Both turned in good all-around performances — Brown Jr. posted a double-double — encouraging signs for two young players still coming into their own.
I don’t think there are many big-picture takeaways from this one — it’s hard to expect any team to win consistently down this many contributors. As currently constructed, we’re the classic spoiler: We’ll play harder than our opponents almost every game, and sometimes it’ll all come together. But with this thin of a rotation, there are some nights when we just can’t channel that same energy. This was one of those nights.
But with Thomas Bryant and Davis Bertans practicing again, and Bradley Beal a game-time decision most nights, we might see the full squad sooner than later.
The Isaiah Thomas Question
Isaiah Thomas wasn’t great tonight, and that might be sugar-coating it. The veteran guard scored just 7 points on 2-8 shooting, dished out 2 assists, and committed 5 turnovers. It only gave more fuel to the fire of his detractors.
But we were never the best situation for him — in fact, our last-ranked defense might literally be the worst situation for him. His deficiencies on that end have always been evident, even during his All-Star years in Boston, but he had great defenders around him back then. He doesn’t now. I think he still deserves minutes — just two nights ago, he scored an efficient 17 points against his former team. He can still score the rock when everything’s going right. I just think he’d be better on another team, and I hope eventually, maybe next summer, that team gives him a chance to show what he can do.
I can’t really even say much basketball-wise here — with this lineup, we’re over-matched against nearly every team in the NBA. The fact that we’ve been competitive is a testament to how much stronger the organization has become under Tommy Sheppard, and Coach Scott Brooks’ ability to lead even in tough circumstances. But until we get the band back together, there will be nights like this, possibly many of them. Just know that reinforcements are on the way and that long-term the arrow is pointing up.
On Friday night, Washington will welcome the Trae Young show to town with a home game against Atlanta. If the Wizards can slow down Young, they’ll probably win. If they can’t, then they probably won’t. It’s really that simple. Either way, it should be fun.