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Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic came up short at Atlanta

ATLANTA — More than two months ago in Mexico City, Atlanta‘s Dejounte Murray hit a game-winner to lift the Hawks over the Magic.

It happened again Wednesday night at State Farm Arena when Murray’s buzzer-beater pushed Atlanta past Orlando 106-104, just seconds after Paolo Banchero nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game.

The Magic, who forced 23 turnovers in the loss, finished 1-3 on their trip and fell to 22-19 at the halfway mark of their season.

Aiming to get back on track, Orlando returns to Kia Center for a matchup with the 76ers on Friday (Bally Sports Florida, 7).

Starting 5

Coach Jamahl Mosley stuck with his same opening lineup — guards Jalen Suggs and Caleb Houstan plus forwards Banchero and Chuma Okeke along with center Goga Bitadze — that he used throughout the four-game trip.

Suggs was tasked with defending Atlanta’s Trae Young when on the court together. In addition to chasing Young (18 points in 39 minutes) around the floor, Suggs was efficient shooting the ball.

Totaling 16 points, he shot 3 of 3 from beyond the arc to finish 6 of 7 from the floor.

Banchero (8 of 25 on field goals) led the way with 26 and did a good job of attacking the basket. That forced fouls and got him to the free throw line (9 of 11).

In the 2-point loss, however, Orlando missed 6 free throws (16 of 22).

Bitadze was a rebounding machine for the Magic, especially on the offensive glass. There he grabbed 7 boards that led to extra opportunities for Orlando, which scored 25 second-chance points.

Okeke (0 of 4) and Houstan (1 of 7) failed to find their shot from 3-point range. Okeke, however, helped defend Murray and continued to offer high-quality defense by recording 3 steals, 7 rebounds and a block.

Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) missed his seventh straight game but Mosley mentioned before the game that he’s expected back “sooner than later.”

Second Unit

Although he used 11 players at Atlanta, Mosley relied on a 10-man rotation throughout the majority of the game as guards Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony while forwards Jonathan Isaac and Joe Ingles plus center Wendell Carter Jr. came off the bench.

Fultz (10 points) played the most minutes (30) since he’s returned to the floor after he missed 27 games due to left knee tendinitis. He pushed the pace and defended at a high level with 3 steals despite picking up his fifth foul late.

Carter (18 points) nailed his first pair of triples and finished 3 of 4 on 3-pointers in 24 minutes.

He added 2 steals and a block while both he and Fultz closed out the game on the floor over Bitadze and Houstan.

Isaac was extremely active on the defensive end, wrecking havoc in the paint. Although he recorded no blocks, he often impacted shots and jumped ahead of passes from Atlanta for 2 steals in 10 minutes.

Guard Gary Harris (right calf strain) also sat out his seventh straight game.

Rookie Watch

After not getting on the floor against the Knicks on Monday, 6-7 guard Anthony Black checked in for only a single defensive possession at Atlanta in the final 6.1 seconds of the first quarter.

As the Magic have gotten healthy, especially with Fultz back in the fold, Mosley has re-worked his rotations and that forced Black to the bench for the second game in a row.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on X, known as Twitter, at @therealBeede.