Kuzma’s 22 boards lift Wizards over Magic 102-100
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Kuzma had 27 points and a career-best 22 rebounds, Bradley Beal scored 20 points and the Washington Wizards rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 102-100 on Sunday night.
Washington snapped a two-game skid and beat Orlando for a second time this season. The Wizards trailed 71-67 after three quarters but improved to 6-18 when behind entering the fourth. Washington outscored the Magic 29-15 during a seven-minute stretch in the final period to regain control.
“It’s great when you can win ugly,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “I give our guys their credit. We didn’t play our best basketball in the first half, but we were able to get ourselves together and play better in the second half.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 10 of his 14 points and hit both of his 3-pointers in the second half for Washington. His 3-pointer with 2:33 left gave the Wizards a 98-92 lead, its biggest since the opening minutes of the game.
Kuzma had 13 rebounds by halftime and became the first Wizard with 20 rebounds since Russell Westbrook did it last season. Twenty of his boards came on the defensive end.
Beal made just 7 of 22 shots and came up short of 25 points for the first time in nine games.
He hit just 1 of 2 free throws with 6.8 seconds left to keep Orlando in it. Gary Harris had his 3-point attempt blocked by Beal in the closing seconds, and Chuma Okeke’s put-back try was partially blocked by Kuzma at the horn.
“I almost made us go to overtime because I saw Brad block (Harris) and I fell asleep and didn’t realize how much time was on the clock,” Kuzma said.
Orlando lost its season-worst ninth straight game and fell for a seventh consecutive time at home. The Magic dropped to 2-15 at home and haven’t won in Orlando since Dec. 1. The Magic are 1-9 this season against division foes.
Terrence Ross scored 32 points for Orlando, which was playing for a second straight night after losing in Detroit on Saturday. Ross had Orlando’s final 16 points of the third quarter and the first four of the fourth period to tie Tracy McGrady for the franchise record for consecutive points with 20. McGrady accomplished the feat in 2003.
“The outcomes haven’t been what we like, but we’re sticking with it and we’re learning and growing,” Ross said. “We’re going to get over this hump eventually.”
Franz Wagner, the NBA’s top-scoring rookie this season, finished with 16 points. Cole Anthony made just 4 of 17 shots and finished with just 12 points, eight shy of his season average. The Magic shot only 39.6% from the floor.
Kuzma said he once had 19 rebounds in a high school game but has never had 22.
“I’m just really locked in and focused,” Kuzma said. “I take care of my body every day. I just have to make sure my energy is right to come out and compete.”
Rui Hachimura, who has been out for months with an eye condition, personal reasons and a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, made his season debut. Hachimura had six points and three rebounds in 14 minutes.
Wizards: Kuzma broke his previous career high of 17 rebounds, which he accomplished on Oct. 30 against Boston. ... Montrezl Harrell cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols but the team decided to keep him in Washington. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said he expects Harrell to be ready to play on Tuesday. ... Davis Bertans returned after missing the previous game with a left foot sprain. ... Anthony Gill missed his fourth straight game while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Magic: PF Wendell Carter Jr. missed his second straight game with a sore left hamstring. ... Orlando is 1-8 on the second night of back-to-backs.
Wizards: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Magic: Play at Washington on Wednesday.
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