Starting 5: Off the Wall

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Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1: Another brick

Brad Mills/USA TodayWashington is trying to shut the naysayers up.

The Wizards have the worst record in the league. They have pundits claiming they have no one to build around. They have an apathetic fan base that has not experienced much in the way of winning for easily the last decade, if not longer. Any shred of hope would be a positive sign.

When John Wall made his return and added 14 points and four assists in nearly 21 minuts of play, hope was slowly restored to Washington. Wall seemed to fit naturally with Bradley Beal, the Wizards' promising rookie, in the minutes they played together.

Things can only get better, right? You see, optimism for the Wizards!

More optimism could only be seen in the Wizards' 93-83 victory over the reeling Hawks. Beal scored 16 points along with A.J. Price scoring 16 in Wall's starting point guard spot (he is just keeping it warm for the moment). And the Wizards had five players in double figures.

You take all the good you can get when you have a season like this.

2: Young Lust

Mark J. Terrill/AP/USA TodayThe Magic had been longing for a win. Since Glen Davis was injured on Dec. 19, the Magic have gone winless. That is 10 straight losses forcing the young Orlando team from surprise Playoff contention to frustration in the basement. Except for one game, Orlando had a chance to win each of those 10 games.

The frustration was bubbling over after an overtime loss at Portland and then another late blown lead at Denver on this four-game road trip. Things did not look bright for the Magic heading to Los Angeles to face the 28-8 Clippers.

Orlando finally broke through and stunned Los Angeles (again).

Arron Afflalo scored 30 points and J.J. Redick played the role of closer with 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as Orlando won 104-101 at Staples Center. Redick hit the go-ahead bucket, breaking a 99-99 tie with a vicious pump fake and step-aside 3-pointer with less than a minute to go.

The Clippers were not able to get the ball to their best players down the stretch. Blake Griffin had 30 points and dominated from the post throughout the game, but went largely quiet at the end of the game. Chris Paul was unusually quiet too.

For the Magic though, there was an exhalation of all the frustration from the past few weeks. Now this team can try to right the ship and climb back up the standings after this rough couple of weeks.

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

James Harden coming through

Michael Beasley doing something active!

Why assist once, when two will do?

4: Line of the Night: Arron Afflalo — 30 points, 10/19 FGs, 7 rebounds, 7 assists

Arron Afflalo really enjoys coming home. The Compton, Calif., native scored 30 points in the Magic's win over the Lakers in early December. He added another 30-point performance at Staples Center to his resume. He did it efficiently and did it by scoring 21 points in the second half, including a killer third quarter to keep Orlando in it. Add on a career-high-tying seven assists and you have one great performance in the upset win.

5:  You can quote me on that

I hadn’t played in so long, four months, so it felt like we was miserable, but I kept fighting for my team. Just excited to get back out there with my teammates, play in front of the D.C. crowd and help our team get a win.

-Wizards guard John Wall on his return

Every road (doesn’t) have a smooth pavement. You’re going to have bumps in the road and craters, so we took the dents early, blew a couple of flat tires, but they filled the potholes. We’re playing good basketball right now.”

-Pacers guard George Hill on Indiana's recent hot streak

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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