Magic looking to end trip on high note vs. red-hot Nuggets – The Denver Post


With the Orlando Magic’s five-game West Coast road trip coming to a close, they have an opportunity to achieve a feat they haven’t done in over a decade.

The Magic (16-27) are looking to clinch their second winning road trip of at least three games this season with a victory over the West-leading Denver Nuggets (29-13) Sunday night at Ball Arena.

Orlando is 2-2 on the swing after Friday’s 112-108 loss at the Utah Jazz, having picked up wins over the Golden State Warriors (Jan. 7) and Portland Trail Blazers (Tuesday).

The Magic haven’t posted a winning record on two separate road trips of at least three games in the same season since 2011-12 when they went 4-0 on a Jan. 8-16 swing and 3-2 on a Feb. 19-29 trip.

They went 3-1 on their mid-December swing, giving them their first winning road trip of at least three games since Dec. 26-29, 2020.

“Being above .500 on a long road trip like this is not easy to do, especially against these good teams we’ve played,” said Franz Wagner, who led the Magic with 26 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals against the Jazz. “This next game is a good chance for us.”

Friday’s loss highlighted some of the season-long inconsistencies the Magic have experienced, especially lately.

Walker Kessler grabbing the offensive rebound over Mo Bamba after Collin Sexton’s missed free throws, which helped put the Jazz up 111-108 with 11.8 seconds left, is an easy moment to point at why Orlando lost.

But that play was part of a game-long problem.

The Jazz out-rebounded the Magic 59-40, including 17 offensive rebounds for 22 second-chance points.

The Magic have been an above-average defensive rebounding team (72.2% defensive rebounding percentage for the league’s 13th-best mark) but have dipped to 21st (70.8%) over their last 10 games.

“We didn’t clean up the rebounding,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Obviously, that big rebound at the end of the game — those are the possessions you have to lock in on.”

Nuggets star Nikola Jokić, the back-to-back MVP, is expected to be available after not being on Saturday’s injury report. He sat out Friday’s road win over the Los Angeles Clippers because of right wrist injury management.

Denver has won 15 of its last 18 games, including five straight. Guard Jamal Murray, who was listed as probable because of a sprained left ankle, is expected to play.

Gary Harris was listed as questionable because of mallet finger (fifth digit) on his shooting hand. Harris left Friday’s game with a hand injury, according to the Magic’s broadcast.

R.J. Hampton (not with the team), Kevon Harris (transferred to G League as part of his two-way contract), Jonathan Isaac (G League assignment) and Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) won’t be available.

Hampton didn’t play for the Lakeland Magic, the organization’s G League affiliate, in their Saturday home game against the Greensboro Swarm and isn’t expected to rejoin the NBA team on the road for the final game of the trip.

This is why he was listed as “not with the team” instead of “G League — On assignment.”

Hampton had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 31 minutes off the bench in Friday’s loss to the Swarm.

Isaac, who played for Lakeland on Wednesday for his first official basketball game in 892 days, suited up again for Lakeland on Saturday as part of his return-to-play process to the Orlando Magic.

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Price at or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.



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