ORLANDO, Fla. — Every team practices a play like this, but very few execute it to perfection like the Washington Wizards did Wednesday night.
Guard Bradley Beal scored as time expired on an alley-oop, out-of-bounds pass from veteran Andre Miller, lifting the Washington Wizards to a 91-89 victory over the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.
The pass came with 0.8 seconds remaining, giving the Wizards (15-6) their sixth win in the last seven games and keeping them tied atop the Southeast Division.
Point guard John Wall had 21 points, 11 assists and six rebounds to lead the Wizards to their seventh consecutive victory over the Magic over the last two seasons. Nene had 12 points and six rebounds. Kris Humphries had 11 points and Marcin Gortat 10..
Guard Victor Oladipo led the Magic (9-15) with 17 points and six rebounds. Forward Tobias Harris had 15 points and six rebounds.
The Wizards are 12-0 this season when holding an opponent under 100 points. The winning basket was the first time the Wizards led in the second half since early in the third period.
“Good teams can find a way to pull out games like this,” said Miller, now in his 16th NBA season. “Every team has a play like this they try and use, but it doesn’t always work this well.”
The Wizards got the ball and immediately called time after a missed jumper by Oladipo at the other end. The Magic sent center Dewayne Dedman to guard the inbounds pass, leaving Oladipo to guard Beal going toward the basket. Miller threw the ball over Dedman and toward the rim.
“I was the first option. Yes, we practice it a lot. And that’s why you have to be serious when you practice it — because it can work,” Beal said. “I think we caught them by surprise. They were looking for something else. I never saw him throw it. I came off a screen and just saw the ball up there, and went for it.”
It was Paul Pierce who set the screen on Oladipo, giving Beal the half step he needed to make the game-winning play.
“At the end of games, we’ve seen this year, they had a lot of options on that play,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “At 0.8, you can catch and shoot. You can catch and turn. And you can throw a lob. It boils down to one play.”
Rasual Butler had tied the game at 89 when he hit one of two free throws with 16 seconds remaining. The Magic had led 89-84 when Harris scored on a put-back with 1:38 remaining. That was the last time they scored. Wall hit a driving layup and a pull-up jumper to pull the Wizards within two.
“Give them credit. They made a good play at the end,” Oladipo said. “They drew up a good play and executed it really well. It’s a tough loss for us, but I have to make the plays down the stretch. We’ll learn from this.”
The Magic led by as many as eight points midway in the final period, but Nene answered with back-to-back baskets to close the gap to 83-79.
The Magic outscored the Wizards by nine points in the third period to take a 75-67. They made 12 of 17 shots in the quarter.
After making just two, 3-point shots in the first half, the Magic hit a trio of 3’s in the first three minutes of the second half to grab the lead they held until the end.
The Wizards led, 45-44, at intermission, riding good balance and hot shooting early. Beal led with seven points at halftime with the other four starters each scoring six. They shot 52.6 percent (20 of 38) and made three of their four 3-point shots.
The Wizards scored 11 consecutive points — from five different players — to take a lead they never lost in the first half. Rookie point guard Elfrid Payton sparked the Magic in the second period by scoring eight consecutive points. The Magic tied the game at 40 on a basket by Tobias Harris, who had eight points before intermission.
NOTES: Wizards C/F Nene returned Wednesday after missing the team’s double-overtime win against Boston on Monday with a sore right knee. Nene also missed five games earlier this season with plantar fasciitis. … Magic C Nikola Vucevic missed his fifth consecutive game with a sore lower back. Magic had won two of the previous four with Kyle O’Quinn starting in his place. … Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he was not surprised that his team came back to win after erasing seven-point deficits in both the first and second overtimes Monday. “In 31 years, I’ve seen some crazy deficits reduced in short periods of time,” he said. “That happens.” … The Magic, who won just four road games last season, came into Wednesday night with a better record on the road (7-9) than at home (2-5). … Wizards G John Wall became the first player in franchise history Monday to record at least 12 assists in five consecutive games.
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