After going through one of their best runs of winning in the last decade, the Orlando Magic are in what rookie forward Paolo Banchero called “a little slump”.
Friday’s 119-100 home defeat to the Washington Wizards gave the Magic, who were without more than half their team because of suspensions and injuries, their third consecutive loss. The downturn came after the Magic went 8-2 from Dec. 5-Dec. 23.
Each margin of defeat over the last three games was by at least 19 points: Tuesday’s 129-110 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday’s 121-101 road defeat to the Detroit Pistons and Friday.
An on-court altercation during the second quarter of the loss to the Pistons led to Orlando being without nine players Friday.
Moe Wagner was suspended for two games for his role in the incident, with the first game of the suspension being Friday and the second being the Wednesday home game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. Eight other Magic players were issued one-game suspensions for leaving the bench area during the altercation — a violation of the league’s rules.
Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris, Kevon Harris, Admiral Schofield and Franz Wagner were the Magic players suspended for one game — which were staggered over two games so the Magic would have enough available players.
Anthony, Bamba, Carter, Hampton and Gary Harris served their suspensions Friday, leaving Banchero, Schofield, Markelle Fultz, Caleb Houstan, Bol Bol, Terrence Ross, Kevon Harris and Franz Wagner as the eight available players. Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) were out with injuries.
“The Detroit situation happened and a bunch of guys knocked out for that,” Banchero said. “That kind of sets us back a little more. We kind of just going through a rough patch.”
Even with the context of having eight players in the most recent loss, the Magic haven’t executed on either end of the floor the last few days as well compared to the previous couple of weeks.
The Magic ranked seventh in offensive rating (115.5) and defensive rating (109) in those aforementioned 10 games. They range 30th in offensive rating (108.3) and 19th in defensive rating (117.6) over the last three.
“It’s a little bit of effort,” said Franz Wagner. “A little bit of concentration. The games were a little bit different in terms of — [Friday] was an energy-level thing. Communication. And we didn’t make shots. They were out and running in the two games prior. We just didn’t stick to our gameplan as well as we wanted to. A lot of the stuff that happens is in transition and that’s when guys get in their rhythm. That’s when it’s really hard to guard.”
The Magic (13-24) will have time to get right, with their next game not coming until the matchup against the Thunder at Amway Center.
They didn’t train as a team Saturday and won’t Sunday but are scheduled to return to practice Monday.
“It’s a tricky balance,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “You have a group of young guys that are working every single day but balancing how much they work vs. understanding their bodies need to get the rest. You don’t want to overdo it in practice to the point that in the game that their energy levels are lower. We’ll balance it out.”
Schofield, Kevon Harris, Franz Wagner and Moe Wagner will serve their suspensions against the Thunder.
“We’ve got one more game of dealing with the suspensions, then we get everybody back,” Banchero said. “You want to come out against OKC and try to get the win, but once that’s over with we’re back to regular.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.