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As Caleb Houstan plays bigger role, Magic’s winning streak snapped in Memphis – The Mercury News

Rookie forward Caleb Houstan is back where he started the season: in the Orlando Magic rotation.

Houstan, the No. 32 pick in last year’s draft, has played in the Magic’s last six games, including Tuesday’s 113-108 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies (48-27) at FedExForum.

Averaging 18.3 minutes in the top five, Houstan recorded just nine minutes and failed to score on Tuesday as Orlando trailed by 23 and cut it to 3 twice in the final seconds before seeing his three-game winning streak snapped.

Franz Wagner (25 points) and Paolo Banchero (24 points, 11 rebounds) led the Magic (32-44).

“We said from the start [that] his basketball IQ is high,” coach Jamahl Mosley said of Houstan before the whistleblower. “He does a great job of recognizing where he needs to be offensively and defensively and his ability to space the floor. Guys recognize he can shoot. His ability to create lanes and openings for our guys has been tremendous.

The Grizzlies, led by Desmond Bane’s 31 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, blocked the paint early and forced the Magic to 6 turnovers in the first quarter.

Memphis, which was without All-Star guard Ja Morant with a sore right thigh, took a 32-15 lead late in the first that jumped to 81-58 midway through the third.

The Magic have won the last three quarters but haven’t made the leap despite Wagner’s 16 points in the fourth quarter.

“They hit us in the mouth early,” Mosley said. “Not being able to get into the game right away [hurt us]. It’s been this group all year, being able to compete night after night, no matter what.

Prior to this streak, Houstan was mostly in the rotation when other players were injured.

Jalen Suggs being sidelined for four games with a concussion opened up playing time ahead of his return in Sunday’s home win over the Brooklyn Nets. Suggs (2 points) shot 1 for 10 in 24 minutes.

But it looks like Houstan will remain in the rotation for the final stretch of the season.

“It gave him the opportunity to step in, find what he’s capable of doing and see that it was important,” Mosley said. “It goes back to that high basketball IQ. He brings a level of calm to this group. He knows he will be in the right space offensively and defensively.

Houstan has had periodic stints with the Lakeland G League organization affiliate over the past two months when not in the Orlando roster.

This gave Houstan significant playing time for his development.

He averaged 16.3 points (36.6 percent 3-point accuracy on 8.4 attempts) and 29.4 minutes in 12 games with Lakeland before joining the NBA team for the season finale.

“They run the same type of stuff, so getting those reps, playing like 30 minutes a game really helps you,” Houstan told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s very similar. It helps a lot.

Houstan’s 3-point accuracy has plummeted over the past two weeks, but the Magic encourage him to keep letting it fly.

“He spends time on the floor, which is very important,” Mosley said. “He is able to recognize scenarios where he can get shot. Obviously, the one thing he did very well defensively was get in the right position. This has been a huge area of ​​growth for him. And his ability to break offensive glass. He does a great job there, either stopping the break or giving us another possession.

The No. 13 Magic could have tied even with the Indiana Pacers (33-43) in 12th place with a win. They play at No. 11 Washington (34-42) on Friday.

This article first appeared on Email Khobi Prize to or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.


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