Pos­i­tive news on the in­jury front for Magic

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS MONDAY - By Roy Parry

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

said.

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.

JOHN RAOUX/AP

Nikola Vuce­vic and the Or­lando Magic will face a Sacra­mento Kings team that has been hit hard by in­juries this sea­son.

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