Magic Notes: Isaac, Banchero, Suggs, Black

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac plans to be available tonight in Dallas for the second game of a back-to-back, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. It’s a significant step for Isaac, who has seen his career derailed by injuries over the past three years.

Isaac played 23 minutes Sunday against Phoenix with nine points and three rebounds, marking the second straight time he has exceeded 22 minutes. He has already missed 18 games this season, including seven in a row recently with a strained right hamstring, and he’s working with coach Jamahl Mosley and the team’s training staff to make sure he’s healthy for a potential playoff run.

“I’m getting there,” Isaac said. “Just talking with coach and figuring out how I’m coming along and what’s going to be the direction. I’m just telling them I’m ready to go. I’m going to continue to just take it one game at a time.”

Isaac was Orlando’s starting power forward early in his career, but ACL injuries cost him two full seasons and limited him to 11 games in 2022/23. He has become a valuable defensive presence off the bench, and his coach hopes to be able to use him more often as the season wears on.

“We’re able to push a little bit more of the limits of what he’s able to do and that’s going to continue to happen,” Mosley said. “We’ll just look at it on a game-to-game basis more than where we’ll fully go. Because it’s also (about) how he responds to these games and what it looks like for him.”

There’s more from Orlando:

  • Sunday’s win over the Suns was significant for a Magic team that has been sliding down the Eastern Conference standings following a hot start. Paolo Banchero tells Beede that the players need to regain their focus for the second half of the season (Twitter link). “We’ve just got to come together as much as we can, pick up the communication, pick up the intensity, and get back to being together as a group,” Banchero said. “It’s just that point in the season where it starts feeling like a grind for a lot of guys, including myself. We’ve just got to fight through it, push through it, come together as a group and be there for each other.”
  • Jalen Suggs left Friday’s game at Memphis in the first quarter due to a bruised left knee, but he was able to return on Sunday, Beede tweets. Suggs was back in his usual role, starting and posting 10 points, four rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes.
  • Isaac is impressed by rookie guard Anthony Black‘s desire to match up with the NBA’s best scorers, Beede adds (Twitter link). “There was one moment where I saw he wanted to guard (Devin) Booker and coach had told him to guard somebody else,” Isaac said. “… And he was frustrated. To have a young guy that wants to guard and wants to be in the game to make plays like that speaks to who he is. He’s going to continue to get better.”
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