It’s hard to parse out how much of the Magic’s struggles should be attributed to injury versus overall roster construction, but we saw last night that effort is not an issue. Down to a skeleton crew in San Franciso, the Magic gave the Warriors all they could handle.
Now, Orlando is faced with the tall task of turning around a roster of eight healthy players and taking on the Kings in Sacramento only 24 hours later.
The Kings, to their credit, have turned around a season that once looked similar to the Magic’s current predicament. After starting the year off 5-10, Sacramento has surged to a 7-2 record since, including a 121-107 victory over the Magic at the Amway Center. While the Kings have been on a tear since that game on January 27, it remains their largest victory this season.
The Magic, meanwhile are 2-7 over that same stretch of nine games and look to be trending towards the cellar instead of the moon.
One key reason for both is injuries. While the Kings have only one injured player in DaQuan Jeffries, who plays sparingly, the Magic’s injury report would probably be favored in a matchup with the squad that took the floor last night. There is an element of luck in any NBA season, but it can’t be stated how absurd it is that Al-Farouq Aminu, Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams. Evan Fournier, Markelle Fultz, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and now, Frank Mason are all injured.
There are some positives to take away from Orlando’s current situation, however. The Magic had three 20-point scorers in Terrene Ross, Dwayne Bacon, and of course, Nikola Vucevic. Despite a size disadvantage, the Magic out-rebounded the Warriors and hit 45 percent of their threes. And finally, this one is huge: it’s going to be impossible for Magic coach Steve Clifford to not play Mo Bamba tonight. With so few players available that Frank Mason joined the roster, immediately became a starter, and then got hurt four minutes into his first game, the reasons to not play Mo Bamba disappear as a matter of necessity. If there was ever a game to free Mo, this is it.
Who: Orlando Magic (9-17) at Sacramento Kings (12-12)
When: Friday at 10 p.m.
Where: Golden 1 Center - Sacramento, California
TV: Fox Sports Florida