Second-year guard Jalen Suggs’ return from his ankle injury and Wendell Carter Jr. tying his career high in points weren’t enough to put the Orlando Magic over the hump against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
Suggs, who was sidelined for the previous five games because of a sprained right ankle, returned Tuesday to give the Magic guard depth they’ve missed but they blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, falling to the Thunder 116-108 to drop to 1-7.
Suggs had 9 points on 3-of-14 shooting (1 of 9 on 3s) to go with 4 assists, 4 turnovers and 2 steals.
He came off the bench, with the jumbo lineup of Carter, Franz Wagner, Terrence Ross, Paolo Banchero and Bol Bol starting for the third consecutive game.
Carter led the Magic with 30 points, tying a career-high he set last season against the Thunder, and 12 rebounds.
But the Magic’s turnovers (25 for 30 Thunder points) and poor offensive executive down the stretch undid them. Orlando, which led 104-93 with 7:26 remaining, didn’t make a field goal in the final seven minutes.
The Thunder (4-3) were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s 34 points and 6 assists.
Tuesday was Suggs’ first game since spraining his right ankle on a drive to the basket during the third quarter of the Magic’s loss to the Hawks on Oct. 21 in Atlanta.
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.
Second-year guard Josh Giddey also returned Tuesday for the Thunder after missing three games because of a sprained right ankle. Chet Holmgren (right foot surgery — out for season), the No. 2 pick in June’s draft, was sidelined for Oklahoma City.
Suggs played in the Magic’s first two games. He scored 21 points (8 of 11 shooting, 4 of 6 on 3s) in 25 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter of the regular-season-opening loss to the Detroit Pistons and had 3 points (1 of 5 shooting) and 3 steals in 16 minutes against the Hawks before his injury.
Suggs wasn’t too far removed from a left knee injury — a capsule sprain and bone bruise — he suffered during the Magic’s preseason win over the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 7. He missed the final two preseason games but was cleared for the regular-season opener.
“It says a lot about our performance staff, what they’re pushing him to do and the way he’s willing to continue to work,” coach Jamahl Mosley said pregame about Suggs coming back from his injuries quickly. “Maybe it’s some of the football stuff that he can bounce off those injuries early.”
Suggs, the No. 5 pick in 2021 who was Mr. Football in high school, had an up-and-down rookie season in part because of injuries that limited him to 48 games.
He was sidelined for 20 games from early December through mid-January after fracturing his right thumb and dealt with injuries to his right ankle that sidelined him for 13 of the final 18 games.
Suggs had surgery to address a stress fracture in his right ankle — the same one he injured 1 ½ weeks ago — early in the offseason, limiting his participation in basketball activities over the summer.
Magic partner with PureCycle
The Magic are partnering with PureCycle Technologies to help “divert plastic waste from being landfilled or flowing into Central Florida waterways,” the team said in a statement.
Through the partnership, the Magic will become the first NBA team to implement PureCycle’s “PureZero waste” program, a plastic waste recycling program geared toward stadiums and entertainment venues.
The partnership with PureCycle, an Orlando-based company, will aim to reduce the amount of plastic waste this season by implementing “an innovative sustainability plan” for Amway Center.
As part of their partnership, staff members from the two organizations also are teaming up to clean up the Parramore neighborhood Wednesday morning.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.