Shorthanded Magic Unable to Keep Up With Red-Hot Jazz

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

For the third time this season, the Orlando Magic started a game with only eight available players. Being this undermanned made it that much tougher to try and slow down the team with the league’s best record, the Utah Jazz, who came out scorching hot and cruised to a 137-91 victory over the Magic on Saturday night. Wendell Carter Jr. led Orlando with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Top Storyline

The Jazz made 18 of their 26 3-pointers in the first half. That’s the most threes an NBA team has ever made in a half. Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to make 15 threes. The NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a contest is 29, set earlier this season by the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 29 against the Miami Heat.

Injury Report

The Magic began the night with eight available players but finished with just seven. Mo Bamba had to leave the game early with an illness (non-COVID related), believed to be the same one that kept Michael Carter-Williams and Khem Birch out. Otto Porter Jr. (left foot pain), Cole Anthony (non-displaced fracture, right rib), Karim Mane (sore right hamstring) and Gary Harris (strained left adductor) also didn’t play. Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) are both out for the season.

Key Stat

The Magic finished Saturday’s game with only 11 assists. That’s the fewest number of assists Orlando has accumulated since March 1, 2017 when they had 11 of them in a game against the New York Knicks.

Rookie Watch

Going from the Denver Nuggets, a team with championship potential this season, to the Magic is giving 20-year-old R.J. Hampton more opportunity to develop his skills in game action. In his four games with Orlando, including Saturday’s in Utah, Hampton has showcased his blazing speed, particularly when he gets out into the open court. He had a few impressive drives against the Jazz and finished with a career-best 12 points.

Player Spotlight

One of Chuma Okeke’s strengths is his defensive instincts. He has a knack for poking the ball away from ball handlers, which he did a couple times during Saturday’s contest in Utah. His offensive game is evolving as well. Over the last several games, he has been able to showcase his range of skills, including his playmaking, shot creation and spot-up 3-point shooting.

Quote of the Night

“Whenever I’m out on the court, I’m going to give (one)-hundred-and-ten percent effort. Just win. I want to win. We might have twenty-two, twenty-three games left, I don’t see why we can’t make the playoffs. I don’t see why we can’t do the things people say we can’t do. It starts from the film room. It starts with the weight room to conditioning to proper sleep habits. Everyone has to do the right things for us to lock in and get right in these last twenty-two, twenty-three games.” – Hampton

Up Next

The Magic will wrap up their road trip on Sunday when they take on the Nuggets at 10 p.m. ET. This will be the first time Aaron Gordon will play his former team. Right before the trade deadline, the Magic dealt Gordon to the Nuggets for Harris, Hampton and a future first round draft pick. Denver was last in action on Thursday when they beat the L.A. Clippers behind strong scoring performances from Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. It is worth noting that the Magic will need to have at least eight players available by league rule for this game to avoid a postponement.

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