The Orlando Magic have battled through injury woes since the season’s start, keeping every game close despite missing significant parts of the rotation.
That wasn’t the case in Wednesday’s homestand-ending 126-108 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves (7-8) at Amway Center.
It wasn’t for a lack of fight or effort.
The Magic battled back after falling behind by 27 in the second quarter and reduced their deficit to nine in the fourth.
But the absences of seven key players undid the Magic (4-11), with the disconnectedness in the first half because of having to play multiple lineups that hadn’t been on the floor together being too much to overcome.
The loss gave the Magic a 3-4 record during the homestand and a 4-5 record at Amway Center.
Bol Bol scored a career-high 26 points on 12-of-21 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and 3 blocks in 35 minutes.
Jalen Suggs, who wore a clear face mask after getting hit on the nose in Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, had 23 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals while Franz Wagner recorded 18 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves with 35 points (12-of-20 shooting, 7-of-13 on 3s), 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in 39 minutes.
Karl-Anthony Towns added 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 2-of-5 on 3s.
Rookie forward Paolo Banchero (sprained left ankle) and starting big man Wendell Carter Jr. weren’t available Wednesday.
Neither went through the morning shootaround.
Banchero, who missed his fourth consecutive game because of the injury, didn’t practice Tuesday. He was ruled out for Wednesday by coach Jamahl Mosley during the shootaround.
Banchero practiced Saturday, with Mosley saying, “He went through all the drills we put forth for him.”
He was a game-time decision ahead of Monday’s loss to Charlotte before being ruled out two hours before tipoff.
When asked if Banchero experienced soreness after going through those Saturday drills, Mosley responded, “Yeah, I think guys really do respond differently to what they’re going through with the rehab side of things.”
“That’s why we always talk about not putting timelines on things,” Mosley added. “Guys respond differently as they go through things. This being his first real ankle injury for a young guy, we want to make sure we’re going about it the right way and the smart way as he goes through his rehab.”
Banchero told the Orlando Sentinel pregame that his ankle had progressed since first suffering the injury but he was still experiencing soreness, adding that it was his first time injuring it.
Ultimately, his return will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment in the coming days, but he’ll likely be sidelined for at least another 1-1½ weeks.
He told the Sentinel pregame he wasn’t sure if he’d travel Thursday for the team’s upcoming three-game road trip before Thanksgiving.
The Magic play the Bulls in Chicago Friday before matching up against the Pacers in Indianapolis Saturday and Monday.
Their first game after Thanksgiving will be against the Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 25 at Amway Center.
Banchero, the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, was originally added to the team’s evening injury report on Nov. 8 after rolling the ankle on a drive to the basket with 2:51 remaining in the home loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 7.
He is averaging a team-high 23.5 points, which is the most among rookies, to go with 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 34.6 minutes (11 games).
Carter, who was added to the injury report Tuesday evening, went through his pregame routine to determine his status before being ruled out less than an hour before tipoff.
It was Carter’s first absence. He started in every game before Wednesday, averaging 16.3 points (51% shooting — 57% on 2s and 37% on 3s), 9.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 32.8 minutes (14 games).
Mo Bamba stepped into the starting lineup in place of Carter alongside Suggs, Wagner, Bol and Chuma Okeke.
Wagner is the only player who’s started every game while he, Okeke and Bol are the lone players to play all 15 games.
Wednesday’s game concluded a season-high seven-game homestand that featured wins over the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.
“Our guys understand how much they support us,” Mosley said of the fan support during the homestand. “They’ve willed us to so many games and brought us back when we were down. Their energy and excitement for how our guys have been playing has been fantastic.”
Cole Anthony (torn right internal oblique), Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe), Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) and Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot) remain sidelined.
Anthony, Fultz, Isaac and Wagner were seen going through individual drills after shootaround.
Anthony, Fultz and Wagner mostly went through shooting drills during the portion of post-shootaround open to reporters.
Isaac worked on post moves, finishing at the rim and pull-up 3s.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.