Welcome to the bizarre world of the NBA, where a team can lose a game but potentially benefit in the long run because of that loss.
On Friday night, the Orlando Magic lost on the court but may have won off the court — all at the same time.
Plagued by 13 second-half turnovers, the Magic fell to the Washington Wizards 96-86.
That defeat, coupled with the Boston Celtics' upset victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, left the Magic in sole possession of the NBA's third-worst record — and, for the time being, at least — the third-best chance of winning the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.
"Come on, Magic, get the draft pick," one fan seated in Amway Center's lower deck yelled during the third quarter. "First pick next year instead of seven."
The first 14 spots in the draft order won't be set until the lottery on May 20, but the Magic inadvertently enhanced their chances with the loss to the Wizards.
After a strong first half in which Orlando recorded 16 assists and turned the ball over just five times, the Magic's offense came apart in the second half.
The team committed six turnovers on its first 11 possessions of the third quarter, and Washington outscored Orlando 15-6 during that stretch.
"I think their physicality ended up catching up to us," coach Jacque Vaughn said.
The Magic led 70-67 entering the fourth quarter, but they couldn't hold on to that lead.
Orlando cut Washington's lead to 83-82 when Tobias Harris made a pair of free throws with 4:38 remaining.
The Wizards responded on their ensuing possession, with Marcin Gortat receiving a pass from John Wall and Gortat going up strong to score on a dunk.
After Jameer Nelson launched an errant 3-pointer from 27 feet on Orlando's next trip down the court, Washington responded with more physicality. Gortat collected an offensive rebound after Otto Porter missed a 3, and when Gortat followed with a miss of his own, Porter scored on a tip-in.
"We needed better ball movement, I think, and getting to our spots on the court better," Harris said.
Nenê, the Wizards' power forward, took advantage of his matchup against Andrew Nicholson and scored a team-high 17 points in 20 minutes. Nenê was playing on a minutes restriction because he was in his second game back following a 21-game absence due to a sprained left-knee ligament.
Nicholson, who has been in a horrid slump on both ends of the court since mid-December, played 22 minutes, including seven minutes in the fourth quarter. He fouled out and finished with four points on 2-of-8 shooting and five rebounds.
The Magic's depth on the interior has been diminished by the absence of starting center Nik Vucevic, who missed his fourth consecutive game because of a sore Achilles' tendon.
Asked why he played Nicholson for a seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter instead of starting center Dewayne Dedmon, Vaughn responded, "We were going to use all of our bigs tonight. I was trying to find a combination that was working. We had bigs in foul trouble a little bit."
Dedmon ended the third quarter with just three personal fouls while starting power forward Kyle O'Quinn ended the third quarter with only two personal fouls.
With the win and the Bobcats' loss, the Wizards (41-38) moved into sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Magic (23-56) have three games remaining.
If the season ended following Friday's games, Orlando would have 15.6 percent chance of winning the lottery, a 15.7 percent chance of receiving the second pick and a 15.6 percent probability of obtaining the third pick.
Arron Afflalo scored a game-high 19 points against Washington, and Nelson finished just three rebounds shy of his first career triple-double, scoring 12 points, collecting seven boards and dishing out 11 assists.
Nelson knew he was close to a triple-double because teammate Jason Maxiell informed him of his stat line.
"I'm not upset that I didn't get it," Nelson said. "I'm more concerned about the loss and the way we played in the second half."
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun