The revolving door that is the current Orlando Magic roster continued to turn on Sunday.
Returning from a stint in league protocols was R.J. Hampton. Departing for protocols was Chuma Okeke and BJ Johnson, giving the Magic a league-high 15 players on the injury report, a category Orlando quite regularly leads the league in these days.
Magic injury report for today 3:30 p.m. at Miami: pic.twitter.com/MaEPHmYK0A— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 26, 2021
As expected from such a decimated Magic roster, with Admiral Schofield and Hassani Gravett getting the start in Sunday’s matinee, there were far too many turnovers and stagnant stretches and not nearly enough scoring and defensive rebounding. It resulted in the Magic falling 93-83 to a Heat team that also had a lengthy injury report.
Jimmy Butler returned after missing eight games due to a bruised tailbone, recording 17 points and 11 rebounds. Caleb Martin returned after missing the last seven games while in protocols, scoring 17 points off the bench on 7-for-11 shooting.
The Magic started strong, with Gary Harris scoring nine points in the first quarter. Orlando opening a 21-12 lead on a three by Hampton with 4:42 left in the first. Miami responded with a 12-3 run. Butler scored 10 points in the quarter to help cut Orlando’s lead to 24-22 after one.
The Heat continued to struggled with their outside shooting in the second quarter, going just 2-for-16 from three in the first half. The Magic, after committing five turnovers and allowing nine offensive rebounds in the quarter, were held to just six field goals and 15 points in the second. Orlando trailed 42-39 heading into the break, with the most noteworthy highlight coming when Hampton and Tyler Herro (who later was tossed after picking up a second technical foul) had to be separated...
The threes began to fall in the third for the Heat as they opened the quarter on a 10-0 run. Consecutive threes by Gabe Vincent and another from Max Strus pushed the Heat’s lead to 63-48 with 7:37 left in the third.
The Magic got back within single digits in the fourth when Hampton hit a three that pulled Orlando within 80-72 with 6:03 left. The Heat responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a Strus three with 3:14 to go that sealed it.
Harris had 20 points to lead the Magic, who shot 43 percent, including 10-for-32 from deep.
Hampton added 14 points and five assists in his return. Franz Wagner had 13 points and Gravett added 12. Wendell Carter Jr. had eight points and 14 rebounds.
The Magic allowed 20 offensive rebounds to a Heat team that gave rookie center Omer Yurtseven the first start of his career with Bam Adebayo and Dewayne Dedmon both out. Yurtseven finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, six of which were at the offensive end.
Orlando fell to 7-27, matching the 1991-1992 Magic for the worst 34-game start in franchise history. They return home to host the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks for a two-game set on Tuesday and Thursday.