NBA: Paolo Banchero hits go-ahead free throws, Magic edge Nuggets | Inquirer Sports

NBA: Paolo Banchero hits go-ahead free throws, Magic edge Nuggets

/ 01:01 PM January 06, 2024

Paolo Banchero Magic NBA

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero, right, looks to shoot as Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, left, and forward Aaron Gordon, center, defend in the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — Paolo Banchero hit a pair of go-ahead free throws with 9.7 seconds remaining on a night he recorded his first career triple-double and the shorthanded Orlando Magic rallied Friday night for a 122-120 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Banchero finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He hit four free throws in the last 34.6 seconds in a game where the Magic trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.


Jamal Murray had a chance to tie the game but his 10-foot shot rimmed out at the buzzer.


The game was the reverse of the night before for the Nuggets, who rallied from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Golden State Warriors on Nikola Jokic’s buzzer-beating 40-foot jumper.

Trailing 78-60 midway through the third, the Magic found their rhythm against a Nuggets team that showed signs of fatigue down the stretch. Orlando hit 17 3-pointers and went 23 of 34 from the free-throw line.

Jalen Suggs had a career-high 27 points for an Orlando team that went 1-3 in a four-game swing out West.

The Magic had a lengthy list of players sitting out Friday, including Markelle Fultz (left knee), Gary Harris (right calf), Wendell Carter Jr. (right knee), Joe Ingles (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (right hamstring), Goga Bitadze (illness) and Franz Wagner (right ankle).

With the game tied at 120, the Nuggets had a chance to take the lead. But Moritz Wagner stole a pass from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and fed it to Banchero, who drew a foul and made the free throws.


Jokic led Denver with 29 points in a game where Nuggets coach Michael Malone utilized 11 players to spread out the minutes. Michael Porter Jr. had 22 and Murray 20.

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley appreciates his trips to the Mile High City. He played college basketball at nearby Colorado. He got his NBA coaching start on the staff of longtime Nuggets coach George Karl. He stays in touch with Karl through texts.

“His advice over the years has been priceless,” Mosley said of Karl.

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Magic: Return home to play Atlanta on Sunday night.

Nuggets: Host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

TAGS: Denver Nuggets, NBA, Orlando Magic, Paolo Banchero

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