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Lowly Magic out to complete season sweep of Warriors

Jan 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) shoots the ball over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic will attempt to follow in the footsteps of the Detroit Pistons and complete a season-series sweep of the defending-champion Golden State Warriors when the clubs tangle Saturday night in San Francisco.

The Warriors expect Andrew Wiggins to return from a 15-game layoff due to an adductor strain followed by an illness. But even Wiggins’ presence — along with Stephen Curry, who is currently out of the lineup — wasn’t enough to prevent a 130-129 loss at Orlando on Nov. 3.

Seven players scored in double figures for the Magic in the win, led by Jalen Suggs with 26 and rookie Paolo Banchero with 22.

Both teams have endured more than their fair share of absences in the nine weeks since their last meeting, a stretch that included a Magic melee in Detroit that resulted in nine Orlando players earning suspensions.

All nine have served their time, leaving Magic coach Jamahl Mosley now just to worry about Bol Bol’s illness, Suggs’ sore right ankle and the knee rehabs that have sidelined Jonathan Isaac for the season and Chuma Okeke in recent weeks.

The door has been left open for Isaac, who had ACL surgery in August, to make his season debut at some point on the Magic’s nine-day, five-game trip — perhaps as early as Saturday’s opener against the Warriors.

“I’m just super-excited,” Isaac assured this week after returning to full-speed practice. “I’m happy to get back into the fold with the guys. The conditioning and all that stuff is getting better and better, so I feel better while I’m out there. And banging and bumping and being able to be myself, it feels good to get out there and just be free.”

Suggs had missed 19 straight games with a sprained right ankle before getting a five-minute cameo in Thursday’s 123-115 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. He shot 1-for-4 on a two-point night and will begin the trip on a minutes restriction.

Banchero had 30 points and Franz Wagner, returning from his league-mandated game off, 22 in the loss to the Grizzlies during which Moritz Wagner was sitting out the second and final night of his suspension.

The Warriors were once again without Wiggins and Curry when they saw a five-game winning streak end on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Saddiq Bey in a 122-119 home loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

Wiggins attended the game and has returned to practice, making it likely he will rejoin the club to face the Magic. He also has been dealing with a non-COVID illness.

Curry won’t, but Warriors general manager Bob Meyers took time earlier in the week to map out a possible schedule for his return from a left-shoulder dislocation that has sidelined him since the accident occurred on Dec. 14.

“There have been no setbacks, so (next Friday at San Antonio) would be a hope,” he reported. “That’s what we would be shooting for. Something in that range. He’s been out there doing all this stuff. He looks like the same guy.”

The Warriors had opened an eight-game homestand with five wins before the shocker against the Pistons. Klay Thompson had 30 points in the loss, including a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left that appeared to be sending the game into overtime before Bey’s 28-footer.

–Field Level Media