For the first time this season, the Orlando Magic had to play without Franz Wagner. While it’s unknown if his presence on the floor would’ve changed Sunday’s result, it’s clear the Magic missed his steadiness.
The Magic (20-59) fell to the Knicks (35-44) 118-88 at Amway Center for their sixth consecutive loss and ninth in the last 11 games to stay tied with the Houston Rockets for the league’s worst record.
With three games left in the season, including Tuesday’s home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Magic could potentially finish the season with their worst record in nearly a decade.
Sunday’s defeat ensured Orlando will finish with its worst record since the 2013-14 season when the Magic went 23-59. Their 20-62 record in 2012-13 was their worst finish since their inaugural season in 1989-90.
Wagner, the No. 8 pick in last year’s draft, missed his first game because of a sprained left ankle. He suffered the injury 20 seconds into Friday’s home loss to the Toronto Raptors.
“Franz, the way he processes things is very good,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He understands it. Was he disappointed? I believe so. At the end of the day, taking care of his body and being healthy is the most important thing in this situation.”
The Magic already ruled out Wendell Carter Jr. (sprained left wrist) and Jalen Suggs (bone bruise in right ankle) before Sunday.
Carter’s missed the last five of six games because of his injury while Suggs has sat the last 10.
Neither have officially been ruled out for the season and Mosley said the team continues to evaluate their status day to day.
Cole Anthony aggravated his sprained left toe early in the first quarter and was ruled out of the game later in the period, leaving the Magic without four starters for most of Sunday.
“It changes things,” Mosley said about the absences. “We always talk about next man up, but not having three or four starters is tough in these situations.”
Admiral Schofield (left knee contusion) also sat Sunday.
The Magic, led by Moe Wagner (18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 9 rebounds), kept the game close for most of the first half and even led at one point late in the second quarter. But the Knicks took advantage of Orlando’s abysmal third-quarter shooting (5 of 19 for 26.3%) to outscore the Magic 37-15 in the period.
New York, which had three players finish with at least 20 points, was led by RJ Barrett’s 27 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Obi Toppin (20 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) and Immanuel Quickly (20 points, 10 assists) also scored 20.
Ignas Brazdeikis, who started in place of Franz, finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Markelle Fultz had 11 points (4 of 8), 6 assists and 3 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
After Tuesday’s home game vs. the Cavaliers, the Magic will close out the season with a Thursday road matchup against the Charlotte Hornets and their season finale against the Miami Heat April 10 at Amway Center.