Magic Roll Past Kings; Isaac Leaves Game with Knee Injury

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

There was a great deal for the Orlando Magic to be happy about during their 132-116 thrashing of the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at Walt Disney World. The Magic’s offense once again was spectacular. Their defense was really locked in, too. But early in the fourth quarter, things took a dark turn when Jonathan Isaac, who worked incredibly hard to return to game action for the NBA season restart, re-injured his left knee. The 6-foot-11 forward had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair after his knee buckled as he was driving through the lane.

Injury Update

An MRI revealed late Sunday night that Isaac tore his ACL. The 22-year-old will be out indefinitely and his return to the court will depend on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation. Isaac’s original left knee injury occurred on New Year’s Day against the Wizards, which caused him to miss the Magic's final 31 games before the hiatus. He made his highly anticipated return last week in Orlando's last scrimmage game and also played in the team's first seeding game against the Nets. Isaac had played 15 minutes against the Kings at the time of the injury and posted four points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The Interesting Fact

Did you know that as of 9 p.m. ET on Sunday only two teams have double-digit wins since Feb. 10? One of them is the Los Angeles Lakers, who many view as the favorites to win the championship. The other is the Magic, who have won 10 of their last 14 games. The Milwaukee Bucks will also have a chance to pick up their 10th victory since Feb. 10, as their Sunday contest against the Rockets tipped off right after the Magic-Kings game ended. The Thunder and Pacers each have nine wins since Feb. 10 as well.

The Key Stats

Based on how good the Magic have been offensively going back to early February, it’s hard to believe that through their first 19 games this season they were last in scoring. Once again Sunday, just as they were in the few weeks leading up to the hiatus as well as in their first seeding game against the Nets, the Magic were outstanding on that end of the floor. Orlando scored 78 points before halftime, tied for the second most in a first half in franchise history. The record was set last season when Orlando amassed 81 points prior to intermission against the Hawks on April 5, 2019. For the second straight game, the Magic dished out 31 assists, making it the 21st straight contest they have accumulated at least 20 dimes. They also drilled 18 3-pointers, tied for the most this season.

The Key Stretch

Right from the opening tip the Magic were sharp. They made nine of their first 11 shots. Aaron Gordon knocked down four of them, including an AND-1 on Orlando’s first possession. Nikola Vucevic, who finished with 23 points, connected on three shots during that stretch, while James Ennis III and D.J. Augustin each buried 3-pointers. Then when Sixth Man of the Year candidate Terrence Ross came into the game later in the first quarter, Orlando really exploded. The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter scored 16 of his 25 points in the opening half.

The Top Performer

One of the league’s best players after the All-Star break, or in his case after his dazzling dunk contest performance, was Gordon, who racked up 22 points, five rebounds and three assists against the Kings. The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder, now in his sixth year with the Magic, has evolved into one of the sport’s most versatile players. One area he has really improved in this season is his post-up game. The 24-year-old is shooting nearly 46 percent when he posts up, a four percent improvement from last year. A few times against Sacramento he used his size and strength to power his way to the basket, where he either finished up close or took the contact to get to the free throw line.

The Underrated

The Magic’s offense gets an A+. Very few people, if anyone, will argue with that. The defense, meanwhile, deserves a similar grade. If not an A+, definitely an A or at least an A-. Holding De’Aaron Fox, who just two days ago erupted for 39 points against the Spurs, to 13 points was impressive. Incredibly, the Kings didn’t score a single fast break point prior to the fourth quarter. Orlando’s 3-point defense was superb, too, as Sacramento made just eight of its 28 attempts from downtown.

Quote of the Night

“It was tough seeing it. Just knowing what he’s been through. Knowing the work he put in to get back out here. Immediately when he went down I just started to pray for him. I’m hoping everything works out and the best for him. He’s such a good guy and he worked extremely hard to be out there. The whole gym just went quiet when it happened, so it was kind of sad to see. Praying for the best.” – Markelle Fultz on Isaac injury

Up Next

The Magic, now 2-0 at Disney, will take on the Pacers on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Indiana defeated the 76ers on Saturday night, keeping them above Philadelphia for fifth place in the East. T.J. Warren exploded for a career-best 53 points in that contest, making 20 of his 29 shot attempts overall and nine of his 12 3-point tries. The Magic, with Sunday’s win, have a half-game lead over the Nets for seventh.

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