WASHINGTON — Timing can be everything and right now the Orlando Magic have been the better team in the all important fourth quarter to start the season.
Markelle Fultz and Terrence Ross each scored 26 points as the Orlando Magic mounted a big fourth quarter comeback and beat the Washington Wizards 120-113 on Sunday night to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 2009-10.
Nikola Vucevic scored in the post to give Orlando the lead for good at 114-113 with 25.1 seconds left as the Magic scored the final 10 points of the game in defeating the Wizards for the sixth straight time.
“We’ve played three good fourth quarters,” said Magic coach Steve Clifford.
“We could easily be 0-3 right now. All three games that we’ve played, the deciding quarter’s been the fourth quarter. How you win can build confidence….I think it’s good to win this way.”
Vucevic finished with 15 points and eight rebounds while Evan Fournier added 19 as the Magic outscored the Wizards 43-19 in the fourth quarter making it the third largest fourth quarter comeback in team history.
Bradley Beal had 29 points and seven assists but was just 10 for 29 from the field while Russell Westbrook was held out for rest as Washington dropped to 0-3 for the first time since 2016-17.
“It’s not where we wanted to be but it’s where we are,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “We’ve got to get the first win first before we get anything else.”
While it will become more commonplace throughout this unique season, Washington and Orlando became the first teams to play a back-to-back in the same venue since Jan. 24-25, 1988 when Washington hosted Philadelphia.
“Any time you can get a win on the road, it’s big,” said Fultz, who played his high school basketball in the DC area. “To be able to go 2-0 here is a huge. I think it’s a big confidence booster for us to show us what we can do. I still think we’ve got to start out a little better.”
Brooks rested Westbrook in the second game of a back-to-back. Raul Neto, who started three games last season with Philadelphia, replaced the former MVP in the starting line-up and finished with 22 points and five assists.
Orlando trailed 94-77 entering the fourth quarter after scoring just 15 points in third.
Thomas Bryant had 16 points and seven rebounds while Troy Brown added 12 points off the bench for Washington.
Magic: Orlando is 3-0 for the fourth time in team history…Clifford said pregame that he was going to watch Aaron Gordon’s minutes. Gordon played 20 minutes and scored four points ... Orlando’s bench outscored Washington 50-31 behind another big night from Ross while rookie Cole Anthony added 12…
Wizards: Neto made his first three shots to run his consecutive streak up to seven after going 4 for 4 in Saturday’s loss to the Magic. ... Beal, who had averaged 35.5 points per game in the previous four meetings with Orlando, missed two shots in the final 19 seconds…
NO OFF DAYS
While technically out on rest, Westbrook was not taking it easy at all. The two-time scoring champ and nine-time all-star stood for most of the game while shouting encouragement to his new teammates and letting the referees know he was still in the building. Westbrook often greeted the players with high-fives and chest bumps during time-outs.
Vucevic was called for two fouls in the first quarter, both while guarding Bradley Beal. After the second foul, Vucevic appeared frustrated and mimicked a punting motion while holding the ball. Orlando was issued a delay of game warning.
Magic: Travels to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Tuesday.
Wizards: Continues a four-game homestand by hosting Chicago on Tuesday.
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Bobby Bancroft, The Associated Press