With a Limited Roster Because of COVID Protocols and Injuries, Magic Taken Down by Heat

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Many of the players you’d expect to see in an Orlando Magic versus Miami Heat matchup were either in the league’s health and safety protocols or out because of an injury. That opened the door for each of their youngsters to showcase their all-around skills. Franz Wagner did just that for Orlando as the team’s point guard, recording 27 points, six rebounds and four assists while committing just one turnover. For Miami, 25-year-olds Gabe Vincent and Max Strus put on a shooting clinic, combining to make 12 3-pointers and score 59 points in the Heat’s 115-105 victory.

In-Game Injury News

Wendell Carter Jr. was unable to walk off the floor on his own after banging knees with Strus during a routine pick-and-roll play early in the second quarter. As soon as he was about to make his move towards the basket, the 6-foot-10, 270-pounder grabbed his right leg in obvious pain. A wheelchair was needed to transport him back to the locker room. Stay tuned to OrlandoMagic.com for more information about his right lower leg injury when further details are announced.

Magic Additions

The shorthanded Magic signed four of their G Leaguers to 10-day contracts shortly before Friday’s contest. Three of them, Hassani Gravett, BJ Johnson, and Admiral Schofield, were in Orlando for either all or a portion of training camp and the preseason. Aleem Ford, a four-year standout at the University of Wisconsin, was the other player added. Gravett played the most minutes among them during Friday’s game.

Quote of the Night

“It felt like a snow day. You don’t know if you are going to go to school or not. The same thing. You don’t know if you are going to play or not because of all these positive tests plus all the injuries that we have, so we didn’t know if we were going to play or not. But we just stayed ready and came in and played.” – Chuma Okeke, who posted season highs in points (18), rebounds (10) and assists (four) and a career high in steals (six)

Injury/Health Report

In the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Magic are R.J. Hampton, Terrence Ross, Moe Wagner, Mo Bamba and Ignas Brazdeikis. Caleb Martin was in the same boat for the Heat. On the injury front, Cole Anthony (sprained right ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. For Miami, Jimmy Butler (back), Markieff Morris (neck), Bam Adebayo (right thumb), Tyler Herro (quadriceps), and Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) were unavailable.

This Day in History

The Magic only played six times in Vancouver, where the Grizzlies were originally based before relocating to Memphis in 2001. The last of those visits was on Dec. 17, 2000, when Tracy McGrady, then in his first season with the Magic, filled up the box score with 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Orlando to the victory. The Grizzlies were led by Mike Bibby, who scored 19 points. On that Vancouver team was Isaac Austin, who played in Orlando two seasons earlier.

Rivals Report

Many believe it’s going to be the Nets and Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals this season. If there’s one team that can prevent that from happening, it might be the Heat, complete with proven, hard-nosed vets. It’s unfair to judge them now, as is the case for many teams around the league because of the COVID outbreaks as well as injuries to several key players. But when Butler and Adebayo return and get more reps with Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker, Miami’s major acquisitions over the summer, the Heat may have the depth needed to knock off Brooklyn and/or Milwaukee in the playoffs.

Up Next

The Magic head back out on the road for a three-game trip, with the first stop being in Brooklyn on Saturday to take on the first-place Nets, another team shorthanded with several of their players in the league’s health and safety protocols. Despite absences to several of their core players, including James Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nets have reeled off four straight victories, their most recent one against the Philadelphia 76ers. Kevin Durant, neck-and-neck with his former teammate Stephen Curry at the top of the MVP race, flirted with a triple-double in that win with 34 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. He too, however, will not be available against the Magic because of right ankle soreness.