ORLANDO – The hard-luck Orlando Magic were hit by the injury bug once again on Sunday when a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test revealed that veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu has torn meniscus in his right knee.
Aminu, who signed with Orlando in July as a free agent, will undergo further evaluation in the coming days before determining which treatment option will used on his knee. If he ultimately needs surgery to repair the damage in his knee, Aminu will likely miss multiple weeks of action. Aminu said on Sunday that he will go for a second opinion on his knee and then decide whether or not to have surgery.
Aminu, who has averaged 4.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 21.1 minutes over 18 games, injured his knee in Friday’s second half when he landed awkwardly while trying to contest a shot by Toronto forward Pascal Siakam.
``It all happened in one play and it’s disappointing, but you’ve got to listen to your body, for sure,’’ said Aminu, who has scored in double digits two times this season, racked up one double-double and has led the Magic in rebounding two times. ``I went up on Siakam on defense and then came down funny on my knee. That’s when I first started feeling it and I continued to be like, `Man, it doesn’t feel right.’’’
Aminu’s injury comes at a time when the Magic are already without all-star center Nikola Vucevic (right ankle sprain) and ace defender Michael Carter-Williams (hip irritation). Vucevic missed his fifth consecutive game on Sunday against Golden State, while Carter-Williams was out for a sixth straight game. Both have resumed light work on court, but their returns are likely still several days away.
With Vucevic, Aminu and Carter-Williams out on Sunday, the Magic have now lost 24 player games this season to illness or injury. Forward Aaron Gordon returned on Friday after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, while Jonathan Isaac missed two games two weeks ago with a sprained ankle as well.
Wes Iwundu, who started three games last week while Gordon was out, figures to gain most of the playing time with the second unit. That extent of the absence for Aminu won’t be known until he and the Magic’s medical team come to a consensus on the plan of action to repair his knee.
``I’m going to trust in the doctor to give me the best (opinion) and then I’ll be able to make my decision,’’ Aminu said. ``Until I get the second opinion, it’s kind of hard to say (whether or not he’ll have surgery).’’
WARRIORS WOES: The Magic certainly won’t get any sympathy over their injuries from Sunday’s opponent, Golden State, who has been decimated all season by injuries and offseason defections.
Warriors’ star guard Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee during the NBA Finals last June and then superstar forward Kevin Durant – who is also likely out for the season with an Achilles’ tendon tear – bolted in free agency in July. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry played just four games before breaking a bone in his left hand on Oct. 30, while Draymond Green (12 games), D’Angelo Russell (10 games) and Kevon Looney (one game) have been in and out of the lineup because of more injuries. The Warriors also lost Sean Livingston to retirement and traded Andre Iguodala to Memphis in the offseason for salary-cap purposes.
Curry, Thompson, Russell and Looney were out of action on Sunday when the Warriors played in Orlando.
How much of an effect have the injuries had on Golden State’s roster? At the end of the NBA Finals last June, the Warriors had the NBA’s oldest team (including their two-way players). This season, the Warriors have the league’s third-youngest team (not including their two-way players) and the fifth-youngest team with the two-way players.
``It’s a balance between continuing to fight, compete and get better – which they have done – and not accept being 4-16,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of his young players. ``You can’t just have moral victories all year. We’ve got to keep fighting, keep improving and get results. I’m confident that those results are going to start coming because we’ve really gotten a lot better over the last few weeks. It’s great experience for our young guys, and with our older guys, they’re gaining experience really for the first time in terms of being leaders. So, there are a lot of people getting a lot out of this season, but it stinks being 4-16 and we need to start winning some games.’’
ROSS LIMITED: At one point during Friday’s loss, Magic guard Terrence Ross said Toronto coach Nick Nurse actually joked with him along the sideline that he had made his last 3-pointer of the night following a shot he had connected on with 6:33 to play.
As it turns out, Nurse was right – largely because the Raptors’ defense blitzed Ross with two defenders as he came off screens in an effort to get the ball out of his hands. That was a strategy that the Raptors used in the playoffs last spring to slow down the effectiveness of Ross and it’s one that several teams have employed this season in an effort to keep his scoring under control.
After averaging a career-best 15.1 points a game last season and becoming the first player in NBA history to make at least 200 3-pointers (217) without starting a game, Ross has seen his production plunge this season – largely because of the focus that opposing defenses have given him.
Whereas last season Ross got off 12.7 shots and 7.0 3-point attempts a game, this season he’s attempting only 10.7 shots and 6.1 threes a game. As a result, his scoring is down to 11.5 points a night and he’s making just 38.6 percent from the floor and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Magic coach Steve Clifford wants Ross to continue to pass the ball when double-teamed in hopes that others on the Orlando roster can make teams pay for the defensive scheme designed to take the ball out of the electrifying guard’s hands.
``Keep making the right play – that’s all that he can do,’’ Clifford said. ``It should be easy offense if the other guys do what they’re supposed to do.’’
UP NEXT: The Magic will be back on the practice court on Monday prior to departing for Washington, D.C., to facing the Wizards on Tuesday. Orlando defeated Washington 125-121 at the Amway Center on Nov. 17, but not before Wizards’ guard Bradley Beal scored 34 points. Evan Fournier scored 25 points in that game, while Markelle Fultz – a native of the Washington, D.C. area – had a career-best 19 points and two 3-pointers in the win over Washington.
That game will be the first of a back-to-back set of games for the Magic, who will be back in Orlando to host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Suns, the NBA’s youngest team based on the age of their players, has been one of the league’s best surprise stories thus far by winning eight times. Five of their victories have come at home as the Suns are tied for the fewest road games played in the NBA with six.
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