Three starters and another rotation player sat out Friday’s game with injuries, but the Magic barely missed them in a 32-point win over Detroit, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. With Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac all unavailable, Orlando got production from Caleb Houstan, Chuma Okeke, Anthony Black and Goga Bitadze, who made his 17th straight start since Carter fractured the third metacarpal in left hand.
“We’ve said it from training camp and on, it’s a ‘we.’ No matter who it is, no matter who steps on that floor, they’re ready to go,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “That’s what it says about our coaching staff, about these guys taking ownership of who we are.”
The Magic have shown tremendous depth and resilience in response to the bad injury luck, posting a 15-7 record that has them tied for second in the Eastern Conference. Mosley has been particularly impressed with Black, a rookie guard who was moved into the starting lineup when Fultz began experiencing left knee tendinitis in early November.
“He’s a kid that wants to take on every challenge,” Mosley said. “He does things that I haven’t seen certain guys do in a while with his length and size. That’s where his confidence comes from.”
Mosley didn’t provide many details about Suggs’ right ankle sprain, Beede tweets, saying team doctors are going to monitor how much he improves from game to game.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Injuries have also been an issue for the Heat, who were missing three starters in Friday’s loss to Cleveland, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami has dropped five of its last seven games, but Caleb Martin doesn’t believe being short-handed should be used as an excuse. “It doesn’t matter who’s out there and who’s playing, who’s not,” Martin said. “We know what we should be doing, we just got to be better.”
- Hawks guard Trae Young has been fined $25K for “confronting and directing inappropriate language toward a game official,” the league announced (via Twitter). The incident took place after Wednesday’s one-point loss to Brooklyn as Young thought he was fouled by Dennis Smith Jr. while trying to get off a potential game-winning shot (Twitter video link). The league’s last-two-minute review confirmed that Smith’s play was legal, tweets Kevin Chouinard of Hawks.com.
- Wizards rookie Bilal Coulibaly studies a lot of game film to see where he can improve, and he concentrates on Kyle Kuzma as much as himself, according to Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports. “I watch the whole game to see how he plays. There’s a lot to take,” Coulibaly said of his teammate. “He’s been talking to me a lot about eventually going through the guy when going up for the layup. He’s got some great advice for me.”