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MRI reveals good results for Magic’s Jonathan Isaac as Nets come to town

Jonathan Isaac dodged a bullet Sunday when he fell awkwardly late in the first quarter during the Magic‘s road loss at Atlanta.

MRI results for Isaac on Monday showed no significant injuries to his left knee/leg, the Sentinel learned.

The team later confirmed the test results and listed Isaac as questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Nets at Kia Center (Bally Sports Florida, 7).

“JI is OK,” coach Jamahl Mosley said Sunday night after Orlando fell short to the Hawks to wrap up a 3-game trip. “My heart dropped when I saw it happen. He’s such a tough, resilient kid.

“Everybody went to go talk to him and made sure he was OK.”

Magic forward Paolo Banchero (illness) is also listed as questionable for the Nets game. The first-time NBA All-Star missed his first game of the season Sunday due to the illness he’s battled since returning from the league break.

Guard Gary Harris, who did not play Sunday on the second game of a back-to-back due to right calf injury maintenance, was not listed on Orlando’s injury report and will be available against Brooklyn.

Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic fell short at Atlanta to wrap up road trip

Entering Monday’s games, the Nets (21-35) were 3½ games behind the Hawks (25-32) for 10th in the East, the final spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Brooklyn recently fired former Magic coach Jacque Vaughn and named former UConn coach Kevin Ollie as interim head coach.

The Nets, who had lost four straight, faced the Grizzles on the road Monday in the first game of a back-to-back for Brooklyn.

The Magic (32-26) were in eighth place in the East, a game back of the sixth-seeded Pacers (33-25) and just 1½ games behind the fifth-seeded 76ers (33-24). Miami (31-25) sat seventh.

Isaac avoiding a major injury could bode well for Orlando’s playoff push. His 101.1 defensive rating leads all NBA players who have played at least 40 games.

He was able to walk off the court on his own power Sunday and exit to the locker room with less than a minute remaining in the opening quarter. Because he did not shoot his own free throws — rookie guard Anthony Black was picked by Hawks coach Quin Snyder to attempt them — Isaac was ineligible to return.

Later in the game, the Magic said Isaac suffered a left knee strain and that X-rays came back negative, but further evaluations would take place upon the team’s return to Orlando.

The results of the MRI were important because Isaac previously tore the ACL in his left knee Aug. 2, 2020 — an injury that would keep him sidelined for 2½ years.

Just 11 games after he returned to the court last season, Isaac had season-ending surgery on March 3, 2023, to repair a torn left adductor muscle (inner thigh).

This season, Isaac has missed 16 games due to injury, including one (Nov. 6) due to a sore left hamstring, two (Nov. 26-29) due to a sore right ankle, two (Dec. 6-8) due to a sprained right ankle, two (Dec. 26-27) due to a sore right hamstring, seven (Dec. 29-Jan. 9) due to a right hamstring strain, one (Jan. 12) due to an illness and one (Jan. 22) due to right hamstring injury maintenance.

When he’s been available, however, Isaac has served as the ultimate X-factor for the Magic.

He’s recorded at least one blocked shot 28 times and two-or-more blocks 12 times and at least one steal 21 times and two-or-more steals eight times.

It’s not a coincidence that Isaac has been part of five of the Magic’s top six rated defensive lineups that have played at least 30 minutes together. He’s helped guard the opposing team’s best player — such as Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama, the 2023 No. 1 pick.

“You never want to see that happen, especially JI knowing how hard he’s fought back multiple times,” Magic forward Franz Wagner said Sunday. “Hopefully everything is going to be all right.

“We definitely need him.”

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