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Magic comes alive in fourth quarter to stun Wizards

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The Orlando Magic wanted to win Saturday night’s game. No, they REALLY wanted to win because it showed. The result was a fourth quarter comeback for an 88-86 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards.

Washington had a chance to win at the end after Nikola Vucevic missed two free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining. Thankfully, Markieff Morris missed an open three-pointer at the buzzer. It was the only Magic defensive breakdown of the quarter.

Sometimes, offense is needed to get a team over the top and sometimes it is defense. On Saturday, both were deployed, especially in the fourth quarter, in sufficient quantities to earn a victory.

The Magic were down by 10 points at halftime and trailed 70-61 entering the fourth period. Coach Frank Vogel had D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo, Evan Fournier, Jeff Green and Mario Hezonja on the floor to begin the quarter.

In the span of three and one-half minutes, the deficit was gone and Orlando had a 74-73 lead. How did they do it?

Everyone was playing strong defense, going after loose balls, rebounding, intimidating shots and making some key shots when needed.

Hezonja was on the floor for 26 minutes, easily setting a season high for minutes played. He played tough defense and chipped in nine points for Orlando.

Orlando’s starters were outplayed for the most part by the Wizards’ starters, but Vogel had to be pleased with the depth shown by his team.

The bench played a huge role in this game. Along with Hezonja, Biyombo hauled down 12 rebounds, blocked three shots and altered others. Green had 18 points in 27 minutes.

“I’m glad he missed,” Green said about Morris’s final second shot. “We fought hard and needed to come away with this win.”

It did not hurt that All-Star point guard John Wall missed the game for Washington. But they were doing fine without him until the Magic uprising in the fourth quarter.

The victory was Orlando’s third straight after three season-opening losses. It was the first time they have beaten the Wizards since March of 2013.

Orlando will try to extend their streak on Monday night in Chicago when they meet the Bulls.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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