Just as the Orlando Magic were starting to adapt to having more players available, they were back to having a limited roster for their 119-100 home loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Magic only had eight players available Friday at Amway Center because of the punishments from Wednesday’s on-court altercation during a loss at Detroit.
“We’ve been in this situation before, obviously, through injuries, through COVID[-19],” coach Jamahl Mosley said pregame. “Guys understand it’s their opportunity.”
The Magic fought and kept the game close early, trailing 56-47 headed into halftime, but the Wizards outscored Orlando 42-26 in the third to make the game non-competitive in the fourth, giving the Magic (13-24) their third consecutive loss after winning eight of the previous nine games.
The victory was the Wizards’ fourth consecutive, giving them a 16-21 record.
Moe Wagner was suspended for two games for his role in the incident while eight other Magic players were issued one-game suspensions for leaving the bench area during the altercation — a violation of the league’s rules.
Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris, Kevon Harris, Admiral Schofield and Franz Wagner were the Magic players who’ll serve one-game suspensions, which were to be staggered over two games.
Anthony, Bamba, Carter, Hampton and Gary Harris served their suspensions Friday, leaving Markelle Fultz, Caleb Houstan, Paolo Banchero, Bol Bol, Terrence Ross, Kevon Harris, Schofield and Franz Wagner as the eight available players.
“I won’t say it’s easy,” Mosley said about the temporary roster limitations. “Obviously, guys playing different positions, different spots. We talked about guys having the next-man-up mentality. For the most part, these guys battled. They competed. Being undermanned definitely takes it toll at some point.”
Schofield, Kevon Harris and Franz Wagner will serve their suspensions on Jan. 4 vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. Moe Wagner served the first game of his suspension Friday and will serve the second vs. the Thunder.
The suspensions are being staggered so the Magic will have eight available players — the league-mandated minimum for a team to play a game.
Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery) and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) remain out.
The Magic had no answer for Kristaps Porziņģis, who had game-highs of 30 points (9-of-13 shooting, 9 of 11 on free throws) and 13 rebounds.
Orlando’s struggles with finishing inside — 62 points in the paint but on 47.8% on those attempts in the first three quarters — seemed to affect their defensive intensity in the third. It also allowed for easier scoring opportunities for the Wizards in transition.
“It hurts when you can’t score,” said Banchero, who had 21 points but on 7-of-24 shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. “We came out with good energy, we defended them well the first quarter and most of the first half. We just couldn’t make shots. I couldn’t make a shot. That’s on me. I had some point-blank looks and jumpers I usually hit. I just got to shake this little, whatever you want to call it, slump and move on.”
After trailing 27-16 late in the first quarter, the Magic used a 16-0 run that ended early in the second to take a 32-27 lead before they trailed at halftime.
The Wizards’ outside shooting (15 of 35 on 3s) and ability to get to the line (20 of 25 on free throws) broke the game open.
Franz Wagner led the Magic with 28 points (13-of-25 shooting) and 8 assists.
Nearly the Magic’s entire bench left their side of the floor to help Moe Wagner at the Pistons’ bench during the physical confrontation Wednesday — resulting in half the team being suspended.
Wagner was assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2, which results in an ejection, for shoving Pistons guard Killian Hayes into Detroit’s bench on the sideline as Hayes was attempting to chase down a loose ball in Orlando’s backcourt with 33.2 seconds remaining in the first half.
The league said in its Thursday release that Moe Wagner committed “an unsportsmanlike act when he pushed Hayes into the Detroit bench while both players were pursuing a loose ball.”
“The league made the decision that it made,” Mosley said. “We’re going to leave it at that. The league made its decision and we take responsibility for whatever actions we played in that part. Now we have to move forward.”
The heated turmoil between the teams broke out after Wagner’s shove.
Hamidou Diallo elbowed Wagner in the back while Wagner’s back was turned in front of the Pistons’ bench before Hayes hit Wagner in the back of the head with his forearm, leading to Wagner falling forward into the bench.
“He’s doing OK,” Mosley said of Moe Wagner. “Obviously understanding the situation, what happened and what was caused. The one thing about Moe is he’ll reflect on it, understand what could’ve been done differently. Our guys reflect on it. We all look at it as now it’s a learning experience that we have to take, learn from and move forward.”
The entire Pistons’ roster surrounded Wagner before the Magic’s nearly entire bench — players and coaches — ran over to the Pistons’ side, leading to heated shoving and words exchanged.
“None of our guys were trying to escalate the situation,” Mosley said. “It’s a very unique situation, being in front of their bench. The objective was not to escalate anything. It was more to get our guys away from that bench. In that situation, it happened to be Moe and Markelle [at] that moment to try to get [them] away from the situation in front of the bench.”
Moe Wagner, Diallo and Hayes were ejected. Diallo and Hayes were deemed escalators of the confrontation and given technical fouls, resulting in their ejections. The league suspended Hayes for the Pistons’ next three games while Diallo was assessed a one-game suspension.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.
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