COVID/ Injuries wreak havoc on Magic, lose to Heat 111-99

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 17, 2021, Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner #22 makes a layup at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

ORLANDO, FL – The COVID-19 virus is in full effect in the 2021 sports world, and new positive tests have peaked havoc on the Orlando Magic roster, along with injuries.

The Magic faced an also short-handed Miami Heat team, also limited by key injuries and health and safety protocols. The Heat managed to pull out a 11-99 win over Orlando.

Looking at the NBA injury report, Orlando had 11 players on the injury list. The Magic are already short handed with Cole Anthony and Mo Bamba recently going down to ankle injuries, and were working without rookie Jalen Suggs being out an extended time with a fractured thumb. But yesterday, things got worse.

Orlando pushed through with Wendell Carter Jr doing the work inside, Gary Harris running the points with R.J. Hampton, and Mo Wagner stepping in from the bench to help out his brother Franz Wagner, Terrance Ross, and even Ignas Brazdelkis.

On Thursday, the Magic were informed that Hampton, Ross, and Brazdelkis would be out because of health and safety protocols. WHAT?!? Yes

That sent Orlando calling down the road to their G-league franchise in Lakeland, FL to bring up Hassani Gravett, BJ Jonson, Admiral Schofield, and Alex Ford to work with Michael Mulder and the remaining Magic players for Friday’s game against Miami.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 17, 2021, Miami Heat player Omer Yurtseven #77 and the Orlando Magic players Chuma Okeke #3, Robin Lopez #33 fight for the rebound at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Orlando went to the floor with a starting lineup of Chuma Okeke, Wendell Carter Jr., Robin Lopez, Franz Wagner, and Gary Harris.

” I absolutely love our team’s effort” Said Magic Head Coach Jamal Mosely. “I love the way they played, I love they competed, I love the way they battled to the end. That’s the identity we have and we’re going to continue that. These guys did a good job competing, fighting, and making extreme effort.”

Wagner had a strong game, scoring 27 points, leading the Magic. Gary Harris scored 20 points with assists, and Chuma Okeke had a great game with 18 points, a career high, and 10 rebounds.

“It felt Good”, Said Chuma on his performance.”It definitely built my confidence up being that I’ve had slow starts and have been missing shots. Hopefully I can keep it going.”

The Heat started Duncan Robinson, P.J. Tucker, Dwayne Dedmon, Gabe Vincent and Kyle Lowry.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 17, 2021, Miami Heat Guard Max Strus #31 shoots a three point during the first half at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

The surprise was that Max Strus came off of the bench and torched the Magic with 32 points, going 8 of 11 from deep and was the games high scorer. Gabe Vincent also got hot with 27 points, and Lowry scored 11 points with 15 assists.

In the fourth quarter, the damage for Orlando got worse. Wendell Carter Jr. bumped knees with a Heat player and had to be helped off the court and went to the locker room, not to return for the rest of the night.

Mosely said post game that it was a lower leg injury and that he would be day to day and is definitely joining the them on their upcoming roadtrip.

Orlando, Florida, USA, December 17, 2021, Orlando Magic Center Robin Lopez #33 attempt to score during the fourth quarter at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

Robin Lopez filed in and played 33 minutes, scoring 18 points and had 7 rebounds.

“Robin calls himself our relief pitcher.” said Mosely. “He’s willing to come in and do whatever is necessary. When he’s not on the floor he’s fantastic. He’s helping the guys understand what the league is like. His ability to score on the block is a big bonus.”

The Magic head to the road to face the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow night, then up to Canada to face the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

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