NBA: Paolo Banchero leads Magic’s win over Thunder
Paolo Banchero had 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to lead the short-handed Orlando Magic to a 126-115 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday in Orlando, Florida.
With Bol Bol in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol and three players serving suspensions due to an incident Dec. 28 against Detroit, the Magic had just nine players.
But Orlando snapped a three-game losing streak with a balanced offensive effort. Eight players finished with at least 10 points. Gary Harris and Terrence Ross scored 18, and Wendell Carter Jr. tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds.
After leading for much of the early part of the game, Orlando steadily stretched its lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Thunder 39-25.
Banchero had four of his assists in the second, as the Magic went 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) to lead 70-53 at the break.
— Bally Sports Florida: Magic (@BallyMagic) January 5, 2023
It was Orlando’s biggest-scoring second quarter of the season.
The Magic extended their lead to 22 early in the third quarter before the Thunder started a push of its own. Oklahoma City ended the quarter on a 20-8 run to cut Orlando’s lead to seven heading into the fourth. Isaiah Joe scored 11 points during the stretch, which lasted for the final 4:12 of the quarter.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who missed the Thunder’s 150-117 win over Boston the night before with an illness, scored 13 of his 33 points in the third quarter Wednesday. He tied his career high by making 17 free throws in the game.
With 10 minutes left, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a turnaround fadeaway to cut Orlando’s lead to seven.
Banchero responded almost immediately with a low-arcing 3-pointer, and the Thunder never again seriously challenged.
Oklahoma City’s Jaylin Williams left the game in the third quarter after rolling his left ankle and didn’t return.
Orlando finished at 51.9 percent shooting — its ninth game shooting 50 percent or better. The Magic outscored the Thunder 48-30 in the paint.