Magic beat Knicks as rotation alterations continue to take shape

Tribune Content Agency

ORLANDO, Fla. — As a two-way player for the Orlando Magic, Kevon Harris more than understands the importance of staying ready.

It’s why he’s fit in the rotation seamlessly in the previous few games in place of Jalen Suggs, who wasn’t available for Thursday’s 111-106 home win over the New York Knicks Knicks because of a concussion.

Harris, who brings similar defensive qualities as Suggs, didn’t play as the Magic once again altered the rotation with Suggs sidelined.

Coach Jamahl Mosley opted to use a double-big reserve lineup with Moe Wagner and Goga Bitadze to counter the Knicks’ frontcourt size.

The move paid off, with the Magic (31-43) beating the Knicks (42-33) for their first winning streak since early February.

Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. He scored five points in the final 1 1/2 minutes to help clinch the victory.

Cole Anthony had 18 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.

Franz Wagner had 16 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes before leaving the game in the fourth because of a sprained left ankle.

Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes scored 25 points apiece. Jalen Brunson sat because of a sprained right hand.

Harris, who’s spent the season going back and forth to the team’s G League affiliate in Lakeland, only played 14 minutes with Orlando in 2023 before playing 39 minutes in the previous three games while Suggs has been out.

“He’s been great,” coach Jamahl Mosley said of Harris ahead of Thursday’s game, “[with] his tenacity getting after the basketball, being able to guard multiple guys, multiple positions.”

“Sometimes he’s so far into the basketball he doesn’t want to switch off of guys and it throws other people for a loop,” Mosley said. “He does a great job with that because of his aggression and because he wants to make it difficult for his opponent.”

Thursday was Suggs’ fourth consecutive absence.

He was seen going through on-court work with the coaching staff during the morning shootaround.

“He’s doing much better,” Mosley said of Suggs. “He’s on the floor doing some contact work, just testing to see where he is.”

Ahead of Thursday’s game, the Magic signed Chris Nikic — the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.

Nikic, a 23-year-old Orlando native who’s a lifelong Magic fan, has teamed up with AdventHealth over the last two years for his training.

“It is so great to have Chris part of the team,” Mosley said. “I think it’s great because he walked in with a level of confidence right away. You have to love that, knowing that he takes pride in who he is and what he’s done. I think it’s so fantastic for our guys to be able to see that.”