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Guard Harris sits out 2-point home loss against Sacramento

Seventy games into the season, the Magic featured a new starting lineup in their 109-107 loss against the Sacramento Kings at Kia Center on Saturday night.

Coach Jamahl Mosley rolled with guards Jalen Suggs (9 points) and Caleb Houstan along with forwards Franz Wagner (18 points) and Paolo Banchero (22 points) plus center Wendell Carter Jr. (11 rebounds) because guard Gary Harris (right plantar fascia strain) was not available.

Reserve forward Jonathan Isaac scored 25 points for the Magic.

At halftime Houstan exited the game due to a sore left ankle.

The starters had marked the 16th distinctive opening lineup of the year for Orlando (42-29), which had entered the contest fourth in the East. Sacramento (now 41-29) had sat eighth in the West but just a half-game behind No. 6 Dallas (41-29).

Harris did not play in the second half of Thursday’s win vs. New Orleans (43-27) after he was ruled out with a sore right foot. Houstan filled in for Harris to start the third quarter against the Pelicans.

Houstan, Suggs, Wagner, Banchero and Carter are more than familiar with one another but they entered Saturday’s contest with only 12 minutes total played together as a group across three prior games.

The lineup had a minus-4.3 net rating in the small sample size but posted a 65% effective field goal percentage — a field-goal percentage formula that adjusts for 3-pointers being worth more than made 2-pointers.

Mosley pointed toward Houstan’s work ethic as one reason the second-year pro remains consistent for Orlando. Houstan has shot 36.6% from 3-point range this season.

“I joke with Caleb all of the time — I call him ‘The Machine.’ Because he is a machine,” Mosley said prior to tip-off. “He’s nonstop. A work ethic like that says so much about what he’s able to do and why he’s so consistent in what he’s doing.”

While Houstan is more than capable of filling in for Harris (who missed his 25th game this year due to injury Saturday), the availability of players such as Harris and Joe Ingles in the final 11 contests of the regular season and into the playoffs will be key for a young group such as the Magic.

Harris and Ingles are two of just four players (also including forward Jonathan Isaac and guard Markelle Fultz) on the roster who have postseason experience.

Ingles’ 57 games played this season are the most he’s appeared in since 2020-21 when he was with the Jazz (67). After joining the Magic over the summer as a free agent, he’s pleased with how things have gone.

“I couldn’t really be happier in terms of all of it,” Ingles said at shootaround Saturday about his time so far in Orlando. “For me, the family part is the biggest part. I’ve got three pretty happy kids at home and a wife who’s very happy living here. Obviously, I understand the other part of it is still my job.”

Ingles leads the team in 3-point shooting at 42.3% and offers a calming presence on the court. He can direct traffic for the second unit and regularly dishes out assists to teammates rolling to the basket.

With 50 playoff games under his belt (which leads the Magic), he understands there’s more work to be done this season.

“I don’t think any of us are satisfied with what we’ve done,” Ingles said. “It’s just that process of keep getting better, keep building on it and making sure we’re playing our best basketball at the end of the year.”

Jason Beede can be reached at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com