There was a subdued feeling emanating from the Orlando Magic after their 108-98 Friday loss to the Atlanta Hawks — and not just because it was their second down-to-the-wire loss to open the season.
Second-year guard Jalen Suggs left Friday’s game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, with the Magic saying he sprained the ankle and that he’d get evaluated further once they got back to Orlando Saturday for their home opener against the Boston Celtics at Amway Center.
Suggs appeared to have twisted the ankle on the drive before landing awkwardly on his right leg after being fouled.
He took 2 free throws and Wendell Carter Jr. committed a take foul on Clint Capela so Cole Anthony could sub in for Suggs, who originally went to the bench but hopped back to the locker room with team trainers before being ruled out in the fourth.
“My heart goes out to the kid,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “He’s working and continuing to battle no matter what happens. He’s continued to put the work in despite injuries. He’s doing the work with the film. He’s a resilient, tough kid. He’s going to continue to bounce back.”
Suggs wasn’t too far removed from a left knee injury — a capsule sprain and bone bruise — he suffered during the Magic’s preseason win over the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 7.
He missed the final two preseason games but was cleared for the regular-season-opening loss to the Detroit Pistons Wednesday, scoring 21 points (8-of-11, 4-of-6 on 3s) in 25 minutes before fouling out in the fourth.
Suggs, who primarily guarded Trae Young while on the floor, was a significant reason why Young struggled in Friday’s first half (2 points — 0-of-7 and 0-of-5 on 3s with 8 assists and 3 turnovers). He was also active in the passing lanes, grabbing 3 steals in 16 minutes. Young, who started to find his rhythm as a scorer after Suggs’ exit, finished with 25 points (7-of-24, 4-of-11 on 3s), 13 assists and 6 turnovers.
“It’s tough, like you said, seeing all the work he did to get back from the knee sprain,” rookie Paolo Banchero said. “To have that happen, you just feel for him. He’s a competitor. He wants to be out there. He was playing well, too. To see him go down like that, you never want to see that.”
Resiliency has been necessary for Suggs, especially with the injury misfortunes he’s had since being drafted with the No. 5 pick in last year’s draft.
Suggs had an up-and-down rookie season in part because of injuries that limited him to 48 games.
He was sidelined for 20 games from early December through mid-January after fracturing his right thumb and dealt with injuries to his right ankle that sidelined him for 13 of the final 18 games. Suggs had surgery to address a stress fracture in his right ankle — the same one he injured Friday — early in the offseason, limiting how much he could participate in basketball activities.
Suggs’ status wasn’t known as of Saturday morning, making it unclear if he’d miss time.
In the long run, the Magic are confident Suggs will be OK but displayed empathy with him getting injured again.
“You never want to see anyone get injured, especially your brother who you work with every day,” Anthony said. “Definitely sucks just knowing how hard the kid works. I wish he didn’t get hurt. I know when he’s back, he’ll be ready. He’ll be good.”