Storyline: DJ Augustin Injury

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Josh Robbins: D.J. Augustin soaked his sprained right ankle in a bucket filled with ice water after the game. Here’s how he described his injury and his likelihood to play Sunday night in Cleveland: “It’s not bad, but it’s pretty painful right now. I’m going to do whatever I can tonight and tomorrow morning to get it right for the game tomorrow and see how it feels. But we have some big games coming up and we have an off day in Philly. So we’ll see how it goes.” -Magic point guard D.J. Augustin describing his sprained right ankle

D.J. Augustin, who strained his left hamstring Nov. 1 and missed the Magic’s last seven games, said he hopes to play either Saturday against the Utah Jazz or Monday against the Indiana Pacers. “I feel a lot better right now,” Augustin said after he watched the Magic lose to the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 Wednesday night at Moda Center. “I’m leaving it up to the training staff on when I could return, but it’s looking like pretty soon. So I hope either Saturday or Monday, at least one of those games, because I’ve been ready to play. I’m just tired of sitting out. It’s hard to sit out. But with a hamstring, you want to be careful with it, because it could recur and I don’t want to go backwards.”

The Orlando Magic likely will have just two healthy point guards available for the next week or so. D.J. Augustin, who strained his left hamstring on Nov. 1 in Memphis, probably won’t be able to play during the Magic’s four-game road trip to the West Coast, which will begin Friday night in Phoenix and end Nov. 15 in Portland. “I don’t anticipate that [D.J. can play on the trip],” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s really just in the mindset that he’s going to continue to try to improve and see how he responds from treatment.”
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“Zion is not on their injury report,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “They are treating him as though he’s coming back from an injury, but he’s not on their injury report. I cannot make an assumption as to what’s going on there. When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level. As I’ve watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all with the way he’s playing. I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right now with the condition he is in. He said to me, ‘He’s moving worse than he did in Summer League last summer when he got hurt in his first or second game.’ “I don’t know if that’s because he’s out of condition, or that’s because he’s got something that they’re not discussing. This is one of the things that the Pelicans have to deal with… this is a guy who has a history of knee injuries and is not right either because of conditioning or because of something else.”
Williamson was gone from the Pelicans for over a week and then was under quarantine for a few days when he returned to Orlando. “He does not look right,” said Kirk Goldsberry. “It does not look good. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he shouldn’t be out there because I don’t know… Something smells fishy here. I don’t know what’s going on. He does not look like the kid that was dominating the league in March.”
Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren’t in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds. What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can’t gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.
Storyline: Draft Lottery
It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year’s draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract. The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year’s drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.
August 3, 2020 | 2:49 pm EDT Update
Zalgiris big man Jock Landale will be playing in a different team next season. With the request of the player, Jock Landale and Zalgiris have mutually agreed to part ways, as the Aussie continues to seek out his dream of playing in the NBA. A member of the Australian men’s national team signed a deal with Zalgiris last summer and had a running contract for next season. After the two sides reached an agreement, the 24-year-old addressed the fans and the Zalgiris organization. “I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for everything you’ve done for the past year. It was such an incredible experience coming to Lithuania and playing for such a historic club and a legendary coach. To the organization, I appreciate what you guys have done. Everyone’s got goals and ambitions, and you really helped me reach mine. You’ve got a fan in me for life.”
Storyline: Jock Landale Free Agency
August 3, 2020 | 2:11 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
While watching Sunday night’s box-office affair between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, perhaps the saying speaks more to the mental exercise of what it takes to play defense and get stops. “Heart and will,” James Harden said. “Everybody says we’re undersized — and they got a couple of offensive rebounds on us just cause they have 7-footers and whatnot — but you gotta just keep fighting, keep fighting. Once we get that ball, we’re out, so it just takes good spirit, fighting and making sure we’re communicating defensively and in our right positions.”
Westbrook finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but it’s more important to note how he kept Houston afloat while Harden sat with foul trouble. He constantly put pressure on the Bucks’ defense, forcing them to concede open shots to Green, Tucker, Ben McLemore, and others. In addition, it seemed like him and Harden struck a good balance of when to attack versus when to move the ball and look for others. When Harden struggles offensively, Westbrook is more than capable of picking up the slack. “Yeah, I think we’re comfortable now,” Harden said of the pair’s chemistry. “I think with that training camp, we’re in a good place. We found ourselves.”
Storyline: Harden-Westbrook Dynamic
“We loaded up,” House explained. “We talked. The most important thing was to stop him before he got downhill, of course. We did a good job about locating him before he could get the ball or even after he got the ball to make sure that we were on the help side and that guys were already communicating with one another. That’s been a big help and a big factor for us — communication on defense. So we don’t have those “my bad” moments.” “Very important,” Harden added on their late-game defense. “I think throughout the course of the game we played some really good defense. Obviously, they’re a really good offensive team, but throughout the course of the game we got stops when we needed to.”
Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn ACL on Sunday night and will be out for the remainder of the season, and the injury came at a time when the Orlando Magic star was gaining tremendous popularity. Isaac’s jersey sales have skyrocketed recently, with only LeBron James having a hotter-selling jersey. The increase in sales was likely a response to Isaac refusing to kneel during the national anthem recently.
August 3, 2020 | 11:16 am EDT Update