ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — It's clear the Orlando Magic are playing for next year, and Friday night was the first of what they hope will be some good signs during the season's final weeks.
Orlando was up and down against the Washington Wizards, but when it came time to decide things, defense and some clutch offense from second-year forward Tobias Harris produced a 97-92 win for the Magic.
Harris scored a career-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help the Magic break an eight-game losing streak. Harris stopped Washington runs on at least four occasions during the game with timely shots. That included a 15-foot floater with 1:22 left in the game to put Orlando ahead 93-88 and three of four from the free throw line in the final 14 seconds that sealed the victory.
"Tonight was a good step for me," said Harris, who came to Orlando from Milwaukee at the trade deadline. "There have been times since being in a Magic uniform that I've struggled to close out games, but you've got to be ready when the opportunity comes and I took advantage of it."
The Magic started Harris, three rookies — Maurice Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn and DeQuan Jones — and eight-year veteran Jameer Nelson, who left the game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return.
Harkless scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while second-year man E'Twaun Moore had 15 and rookie Andrew Nicholson scored 14.
"This was just a great effort by every player who stepped on the floor," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We've been through a lot of games like this and lost, but tonight, we made free throws, we executed our offense and when we didn't make shots, we defended. That gave us a chance to stay in the game."
The Wizards, by contrast, didn't get much of anything from anyone other than John Wall and Martell Webster. Wall led Washington with 35 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Webster was the only other Wizard in double figures, scoring 19.
"I don't think anybody had a good performance," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "Over and over again this year we just go through the motions against teams like this and it costs you."
"They won the game in the first half," Wall said. "They did whatever they wanted and got confidence. Whenever we fought back, they still had the confidence they could get the lead back."
It was not a well-played game by either team — Orlando shot just 43 percent and Washington only 37 percent — but the Magic were able to make plays when they needed them.