Orlando Magic guard D.J. Augustin, right, hopes to return to the court when his team faces the Utah Jazz. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
After a couple of injuries decimated the Orlando Magic’s backcourt earlier this season, it looks like the team will be back to full strength soon. Point guard D.J. Augustin, who has missed five games due to a hamstring injury, practiced on Friday and hopes to return to the court Saturday night.
“Hopefully I can play,” he said. “I want to play, but it’s also gonna be up to the training staff, what they feel comfortable with. But I felt like today I practiced pretty good and I felt good.”
Augustin, who had not practiced in two weeks, said his hamstring felt good after Friday’s workout. The coaching staff, however, wants to make sure that he’s fully healthy before playing him.
“He was terrific for us to start the season,so we definitely missed him and he had a good practice today,” coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ll see how he responds in terms of how he feels tomorrow.”
Before going down, Augustin had been in the midst of a solid season. He is averaging eight points on 47 percent shooting to go along with five assists. The Magic are also hoping his return will help space the floor. Augustin has made 39 percent of his 3-point attempts this year.
“Hopefully he’ll come back and knock down a bunch of threes and give us more space and do what he does,” Vogel said. “He started the season off really well for us, not just shooting the ball well but running the team and playmaking.”
After a strong start to the season, the Magic are looking to end their three-game losing streak with a win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. After losing star small forward Gordon Hayward in free agency, the Jazz have struggled early on this season. They are 6-9 and are scoring 98.5 points per game, which ranks 27th in the league.
But the Magic are not underestimating their opponent.
“Utah plays extremely hard,” Vogel said. “If you watch them play, that’s one thing that sticks out right away is how much they hustle, how hard they play. So, we’re gonna have to play with great energy and focus tomorrow night.”
The Magic, who play at a fast pace, will also look to avoid being slowed down by the Jazz.
“They play smart basketball and they don’t play with much space,” center Nikola Vucevic said. “They’re gonna try to slow the game down. We can’t let that happen. We’re gonna have to stick to our game, try to run, but to be able to do that, we’re gonna have to get stops.”
Looking to snap streak
During the past few years, prolonged losing streaks have been common for the Magic. But the team’s current three-game skid is the longest one so far this season and Orlando will look to bring it to an end before it gets out of control.
“It’s kind of the first time that we hit adversity and coming back from a trip, it’s gonna be important that we get this win at home,” Vucevic said. “These next two games at home are gonna be very important for us ‘cause we’re going on another trip after that, so we’re gonna have to respond these two games.”
The coaching staff, however, does not want to place too much emphasis on a single game, even though the Magic will be facing a tough road trip soon.
“I hate to dump a whole pile of importance on one single game. Every game’s important to us,” Vogel said. “If we lose tomorrow, it’s not the end of our season. If we win, we haven’t won a championship. We gotta come in and every game matters.”