The Orlando’s magic they overcame the issue for nearly a month, but couldn’t in Monday’s 123-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
They ran out of gas.
The lack of healthy players seemed to catch up with them and played a significant role in Monday’s loss, the Magic’s first (5-13) loss of the season. The Pacers led by at least 15 points throughout the fourth quarter.
“There’s a level of difficulty there,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “It’s probably going to sound like the same message and repeating it: guys who step on this floor need to be ready to go. Competing, playing hard every night and making sure we’re still together is part of our job. We have to keep fighting.”
Carter did not play due to a pulled right plantar fascia (soft tissue under the foot). Okeke was ruled out in the third quarter due to left knee pain.
“It’s the same knee he dealt with before,” Mosley said of Okeke. “Part of that is being careful not to make things worse. We want to be careful with our guys and make sure we try to get healthy bodies back.
Suggs was not officially ruled out but came out early in the fourth after suffering a right ankle injury.
“As bodies are falling, I want to make sure we’re not putting anyone else in danger,” Mosley said. “He corrected it a few times, but it will be fine.”
This exacerbated the Magic’s on-court problems on Monday, with Orlando sometimes failing to follow game plan or playing with the energy necessary to win – something that happens to every team over the course of an NBA season but made more apparent by injury.
Tyrese Haliburton led the Pacers (10-6) with 18 points and 14 assists in 27 minutes. Ben Mathurin scored 22 points off the bench.
Franz Wagner had 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, and Gary Harris had 18 points from the bench for the Magic.
Carter did not participate in the team’s morning shootout and was an overtime decision before being ruled out 2.5 hours before a warning for his third four-game absence due to injury.
Mosley said Carter had not gone through his pre-match routine before being sent off.
“All I know is it hurt this morning,” added Mosley. “I’d rather err on the side of caution than try to retest it.”
Carter told the Orlando Sentinel that he plans to have his foot seen by a doctor when the team returns to Central Florida.
He hopes to be available for Friday’s home game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Amway Center.
Carter was also an in-game decision Saturday’s loss to the Pacers but was ruled out less than an hour before the tip after attempting to make it through the pre-match warm-up.
“A combination of both,” Mosley had previously said when asked if Carter’s ailment was more about pain management than further injury to the foot. “There’s pain—a lot of pain. He’s enjoying what he’s done before. I’m just making sure it doesn’t get any worse.”
Carter told the Guardian ahead of Friday’s away win over the Chicago Bulls that he had struggled with the injury for 5-6 games before being sidelined for the first time in Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in 34 minutes on Friday.
“It got really bad in the last game and I just didn’t feel comfortable going out on the pitch,” he added. “Knowing my body, knowing that when I feel pain I will start to favor things, I didn’t want to end up hurting something else because I favor something on my foot.
“There’s really no specific thing you can put on it to make it stop hurting. It’s just about tolerance and heating up and stuff.”
Col. Anthony (torn right internal oblique), Pawel Banchero (left ankle sprain) Markelle Fultz (fracture of the big toe of the left foot), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury treatment) and Moe Wagner (right metatarsal sprain) remain out of the game.
Monday’s Magic-Pacers game was the second in three nights in Indianapolis.
This was the Magic’s first “baseball series” of the season – when two teams play consecutive games at the same venue without traveling between them.
There are still five of these series left: vs. 76ers in Orlando (Friday and Sunday); against the Toronto Raptors in Orlando (December 9 and 11); at the Celtics in Boston (December 16 and 18); at the 76ers in Philadelphia (January 30 and February 1); vs Cavaliers in Orlando (April 4 & 6).
“I love situations like this,” Mosley said. “They teach the young team how [to] and what adjustments need to be made. Did you follow the game plan correctly? Or maybe it’s some of your own mistakes you’ve made or things you’ve done right? You can evaluate it right away.”
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