Undermanned Magic End West Coast Trip With Loss to Suns

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

The Orlando Magic had only eight available players, the minimum number to play an NBA game, in their matchup against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. Trying to slow down a team that going into the night had won eight of nine and feature one of the league’s best backcourts was too tall an order while abnormally undermanned, as the Magic fell, 109-90.

Top Performer

Prior to Sunday’s contest, Terrence Ross had come off the bench in his last 180 games. The last time he started was on Nov. 25, 2017. Due to the Magic being so shorthanded, the 6-foot-6 veteran was inserted into the starting lineup. He scored a team-high 23 points on 9-for-23 shooting from the field and 3-for-10 from 3-point distance.

Injury Report

Al-Farouq Aminu (injury management), Cole Anthony (right shoulder strain), James Ennis III (right groin strain), Evan Fournier (back spasms), Aaron Gordon (left ankle sprain), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation), and Frank Mason III (right groin strain) were all out. Two-way contract player Karim Mane is playing in the G League for the Lakeland Magic at Disney.

Player Spotlight

Coming into Sunday’s NBA action, Nikola Vucevic was tied for 14th in the association in made 3-pointers. Even more incredible, Orlando’s 7-footer has knocked down more top of the key 3-pointers than anyone else in the league. Vucevic, who finished Sunday’s game with 14 points, has knocked down at least one three in every game so far this year.

Key Stretch

The Suns opened the game on a 14-2 run. Devin Booker had eight of his 27 points during that stretch and 17 in the first quarter. Now in his sixth NBA season, Booker has scored 20 points or more in all but three of the games he has appeared in this season.

Key Stat

The Magic dished out just 13 assists. It was the first time this season and just the second time since November 2017 that they had 13 or fewer of them in a game. Playing with just one point guard (Michael Carter-Williams), Orlando wasn’t able to move the ball the way they usually do. They also struggled from 3-point range (6-of-35).

Quote of the Night

“It’s all we got left is to fight. You can’t just roll over. There’s only one option, and it’s to go out there and fight.” - Ross

Up Next

The Magic now return home and will play seven of their last eight games before the All-Star break at Amway Center. Their first opponent coming back from their 1-3 West Coast trip will be the New York Knicks on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Magic and Knicks last squared off on Jan. 18 at Madison Square Garden. Julius Randle made a go-ahead layup with 56 seconds left to lift the Knicks to the win. Gordon recorded his second career triple-double in that game, while Vucevic scored 24 and Ross had 19.

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