Positive news on the injury front for Magic
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When it comes to dealing with injuries, the Sacramento Kings know exactly how the Orlando Magic are feeling.
Monday’s meeting at Golden 1 Center will feature two teams that have had to shuffle and reshuffle their lineup this season because of a slew of injuries.
Orlando (18-21) deployed its 10th different starting lineup during Friday’s 98-94 loss in Phoenix as they started a sixgame road trip with a tough loss.
Sacramento (15-24) has used six different starting lineups this season and played without Marvin Bagley III, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Richaun Holmes during Friday’s 127106 home loss to Milwaukee.
For the Magic, their injury woes began Nov. 20 when starters Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon sustained ankle injuries in Toronto.
The injury kept Gordon out of just three games while Vucevic went on to miss 11 games.
Then came knee injuries to reserve forward Al-Farouq Aminu and starting forward Jonathan Isaac. They remain out indefinitely.
The Kings, meanwhile, have been dealing with key injuries since Day 1. Bagley was injured late in the season opener and missed the next 22 games. He returned to play eight games before sustaining another injury that has kept him out of the past eight contests.
Bogdanovic has missed the past nine games, with the Kings going 2-7 in that stretch, and Sacramento announced Sunday that Holmes will be re-evaluated in two to three weeks after being diagnosed with a shoulder injury.
Bagley, Bogdanovic and Holmes represent nearly 41 points per game for the Kings.
In addition, starting guard De’Aaron Fox missed 17 games before returning in mid-December.
The Magic, meanwhile, could see some positive movement on the injury front. Coach Steve Clifford said Gordon, D.J. Augustin and Michael CarterWilliams each participated in some parts of practice on Sunday.
Their availability remains uncertain, but Clifford said the team should have some clarity on Monday morning.
“We’ll see how they feel tomorrow when they get up if they can do shootaround and stuff like that,” Clifford said.
Gordon and Augustin missed Friday’s game in Phoenix, more as a precaution than because of serious injuries. Gordon was dealing with tightness in his right calf that came up during Wednesday’s win over the Wizards and
Augustin sat with a left knee contusion.
Gordon said before Friday’s game he didn’t want to push the issue with his calf.
Augustin said his knee issue is more like a “nagging thing” than an injury. He and the Magic sought to get in front of it now rather than let it linger as the season progresses and forces Augustin to miss more time.
Augustin, who said he didn’t do any contact during practice but felt good afterward, sounded like he would be good to go for Monday’s game.
“It felt pretty good just getting back out there and running on it. I didn’t feel any real pain. I didn’t want to do too much, though, [and] try to aggravate it for tomorrow night,” he said. “We just want to take care of it early and like I said hopefully I don’t feel anything tomorrow during the game.”
Carter-Williams, meanwhile, hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder Dec. 20 in Portland — a span of 10 games.
He’s not sure if he’ll make his return Monday but he’s getting closer and has been pleased with his progress. He said his legs felt good after going through parts of practice.
“My shoulder felt good, so I’m going to talk with the trainer, see what’s going on and go from there,” he said after practice. “My conditioning feels pretty good.
We did a lot of conditioning throughout the process of me getting back.”
Clifford was happy to see Carter-Williams back on the floor, as limited as his participation was during practice, but he also tempered any enthusiasm with some words of caution. He said Carter-Williams’ extended time away likely will keep him from significant minutes as he moves back into the rotation.
“I’m not sure how much that he’d be able to play in these first few games,” Clifford
Still, Carter-Williams’ pending return is good news for the Magic.
As far as the Kings go, the Magic will have to contend with the talented backcourt of Fox and Buddy Hield.
Hield leads the team in scoring at 20.3 per game, with Fox next at 18.3 per game. He’s averaged 22.2 points over his past five games.
The Kings also can deploy a lineup that features frontcourt players, such as Harrison Barnes and Nemanja
Bjelica, with perimeter skills.
“[They’re] dynamic on the perimeter, and they cause a lot of problems because they play different bigs with different strengths,” Clifford said of the Kings.
Clifford said that versatility allows the Kings to keep five 3-point shooters on the floor at times and create multiple pick-and-roll combinations, where the screeners can roll or flare.
“It makes it a lot harder on your defense to not get spread out,” Clifford said.
The Kings are 3-10 during their past 13 games, and that stretch included an eight-game losing streak from Dec. 17-31. But a closer look shows the Kings lost six of those games by an average of 4.8 points. The other two were a 14-point loss to the Pacers and an 18-point loss to the Clippers.
Monday’s game tips off at 10 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Florida.
Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic will face a Sacramento Kings team that has been hit hard by injuries this season.