Sat, 22 Jan 2022

Slumping Magic search for answers without Jalen Suggs vs. Nuggets

Field Level Media
01 Dec 2021, 06:55 GMT+10

The slumping Orlando Magic finally caught a break, but it was one they could do without.

Jalen Suggs, selected fifth overall by Orlando in the 2021 NBA Draft, will be sidelined for "an extended period of time" after suffering a fractured right thumb on Monday during the Magic's 101-96 loss to thehost Philadelphia 76ers. The 6-foot-5 guard was injured late in the fourth quarter when he drove the lane and Sixers center Joel Embiid swiped the ball away.

Suggs exited with 17 points, five assists and three rebounds as Orlando watched its losing streak reach seven. He is averaging 12.3 points and 3.6 assists in 21 games this season.

The Magic will return Wednesday to the Amway Center, where they have a league-worst 1-8 home record. And they prepare for a Denver team that not only has reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic back on the floor, but also the Nuggets have also won the last 10 meetings with Orlando going back to the 2016-17 season.

Denver stopped a six-game losing streak with Monday's 120-111 victory over the host Miami Heat. It marked the first leg of a Nuggets' seven-game trip that runs through Dec. 11.

After missing the Nuggets' previous four games because of a right-wrist sprain, Jokic had 24 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes. Denver's star center is averaging 26.2 points and 13.7 rebounds in 15 games.

Jokic paced seven scorers in double figures for the Nuggets, who shot 58.1 percent from the field against Miami. Former Magic first-round pick Aaron Gordon followed with 20 points and rookie Bones Hyland made five 3-pointers and had a career-high 19 points in his return from a two-game absence.

Having players return to the lineup can only help Denver, which is without guard Jamal Murray (knee) and Michael Porter Jr. Porter, who will reportedly undergo back surgery, forcing one of the Nuggets' key scorers to be out indefinitely.

"While he (Jokic) was out, we struggled," Denver coach Michael Malone said postgame Monday. "I think that happens on any team when you take out an MVP. There's going to be side effects from that, so to have him back I think was a confidence booster for our guys."

Orlando traded Gordon -- whom the Magic selected fourth overall in 2014 -- to Denver in March as part of a deal for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a future first-round pick.

Harris, who has been in a starting role recently with Magic guard Cole Anthony (ankle) sidelined for six straight games, scored 16 points Monday on 6-for-11 shooting. Hampton contributed seven points in 14 minutes off the bench.

Franz Wagner totaled 27 points (11-for-24 shooting), six rebounds and five assists against Philadelphia, becoming the sixth Orlando rookie to post a 25/5/5 game. Much of the offense ran through him with Anthony and Suggs both sidelined, but the Magic were outscored 8-3 during the final minute in completing a 3-12 month of November.

"They (the Sixers) were in a deep drop," Wagner said. "Without Cole, and later without Jalen, (Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley) let me handle the ball a little bit more, and I just tried to attack when I see them drop and try to make plays. I took a couple bad shots, but I think for the most part being aggressive helps us out there."

Mo Bamba (back) returned to the Orlando lineup on Monday and had a career-high six blocks to go along with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

--Field Level Media

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