The Orlando Magic (4-10) have a turnover problem.
Even during their 3-3 start to the season-long seven-game homestand, which concludes with a matchup vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-8) on Wednesday at Amway Center, giveaways have remained an issue.
They’ve averaged 18.8 turnovers and have a turnover ratio — the number of turnovers averaged per 100 possessions — of 18.9% over the last six games, both of which are the league’s second-worst marks since the homestand started Nov. 3.
“We talked about that before with some of the other games we lost,” Franz Wagner said to the Orlando Sentinel. “Just the way we sometimes give the other team the basketball. We don’t give ourselves a chance, and it’s all self-inflicted which also gives us hope that it’s not anything the other team did. It’s more of what we’re doing.”
The Magic committed their second-most turnovers in Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, giving the ball away 22 times and leading to 21 points in a game in which they had multiple early double-digit deficits.
“Give them credit. They applied a lot of ball pressure, especially in the first half, and we weren’t strong enough with the ball,” Wagner said. “Especially those live-ball turnovers … they turned them into easy points. That’s how you lose these games.”
Turnovers were a season-long issue for the Magic last year and that’s been the case through this season’s first month.
Their 17.1% turnover ratio and 17 giveaways per game are the league’s second- and third-worst marks, respectively. The 20.3 points they allow off giveaways is the league’s fifth-worst mark.
Even when they get back and play good transition defense, they make it harder for themselves by giving opponents more opportunities in the open floor.
Giving opponents easier opportunities to score also makes it more likely the Magic will have to play against a set, halfcourt defense on the other end — harder to score against compared with a defense that isn’t set after a miss.
“Especially when you’re down in a game, sometimes we want to get it back so quickly that we make those plays,” Wagner said. “Everybody’s trying to do their best jobs. Nobody’s going to be perfect in the game but some of those mistakes we can fix and we have in the past before. Nothing new we haven’t talked about.”
Some turnovers are bound to happen occasionally, such as the ball bouncing off one’s foot after a dribble or getting stripped on a drive. The emphasis on penalizing carrying also has led to an uptick in turnover rate. Turnovers generally happen with more frequency early in the season league-wide.
But there are several kinds of turnovers the Magic need to clean up — not just one.
Better execution on handoffs or dribble handoffs is one of these areas. The Magic had at least 2 turnovers because of poorly executed handoffs.
“The ballhandler has to make sure he’s dribbling at the defender, not just dribbling at his offensive teammate,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “You want to make that defender have to make a decision. That’s a big portion of it. As that handoff happens, you don’t want to just flip it. You want to bring it to his body so he collects it and he’s able to turn the corner, read the defense and decide if it’s a catch-and-shoot or getting down into the lane.”
They also had a couple of turnovers where the player receiving the ball could’ve done a better job making themselves available for the pass.
“Being able to hold your man off so you can make the catch,” Mosley said. “Being in the right spot. Finding open space when that guy does drive into the lane to kick it out. Those are the small and simple pieces we have to continue to execute.”
But a significant amount of the turnovers come from making bad passes — either mistimed or trying to do too much at once.
“Sometimes it’s discipline, trying to make a home-run play,” Wagner said. “Every play’s a little different. Sometimes you’re trying to make the right play and your execution wasn’t perfect. But I think you’re not going to have 22 of those turnovers. It’s a combination, especially the ones where we don’t seem focused, engaged or are just lazy with the ball. Those are the ones we got to fix.”
Rookie forward Paolo Banchero didn’t practice Tuesday after sitting for Monday’s game, his third consecutive absence because of a sprained left ankle.
Mosley said Banchero’s status remains day-to-day for Wednesday.
“Obviously, he’s not happy, understandably,” Mosley said. “He wants to be out there with his teammates. He’s doing everything we’re asking of him to do in order to get back on the court. He’s going to continue to do that.”
Banchero practiced Saturday, with Mosley saying, “He went through all the drills we put forth for him,” and that he’d be a game-time decision for Monday. He was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report before being ruled out two hours before tipoff.
When asked by the Sentinel on Monday if the ankle was still sore, Banchero nodded his head up and down to affirm it did.
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).
Starting center Wendell Carter Jr. was added to the injury report Tuesday evening and was listed as questionable with a strained right plantar fascia (soft tissue under the foot). There’s optimism he’ll be available.
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.
“Nothing new to really report,” Mosley said. “Those guys are still on the same track.”
Carter, Mosley, Magic community ambassador Bo Outlaw, Florida Blue and Magic staff members distributed 350 Thanksgiving meals to families in the Central Florida area Tuesday.
The meals included turkey, green beans, gravy, corn, stuffing, sweet potato and pumpkin pies. Kroger was a supporting partner for the event.
“Every opportunity we can help any areas around the Orlando area, we’re going to take them and do as much as we can,” Carter said. “I definitely can’t take all the credit. The Magic, my fantastic family and everybody behind me made this happen. They put a lot of effort into this.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.