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Magic’s 3-point accuracy too much for Pacers to handle

Jan 25, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA;  Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte (3) drives to the hoop guarded by Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) in the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Paolo Banchero’s 23 points led eight Magic scorers to post least eight points, and host Orlando — which shot a scorching 53.6 percent from beyond the arc — led wire-to-wire in a 126-120 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

Banchero and Indiana’s Bennedict Mathurin, the NBA’s top two leading scorers among rookies, both set the pace for their teams in Wednesday’s contest. Mathurin went for a game-high 26 points, but Banchero’s Magic came out on top thanks to a strong start.

Orlando, which made 15 of 28 shots from deep, scored the game’s first 11 points and pulled ahead by as many as 17 before intermission.

The Pacers, playing the second night of a back-to-back, whittled away at the deficit before pulling within three points in the third quarter.

A 15-3 Magic run from the end of the third period into the fourth pushed Orlando’s lead back to 17 points. Indiana made a late-game rally effort but the gap proved too wide.

Gary Harris scored a season-high 22 points for the Magic, who shot 56.1 percent from the field. Wendell Carter Jr. recorded a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Franz Wagner and Markelle Fultz each notched 13 points to give the entire Orlando starting five double figures.

Wagner and Fultz dished seven and eight assists, respectively, leading the way as 34 of the Magic’s 46 made field-goal attempts were assisted.

Bol Bol chipped in nine points off the bench, and fellow reserves Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs each notched eight. The collective effort powered Orlando to its first back-to-back wins in more than a month when the Magic won on Dec. 21 and 23.

Indiana, meanwhile, dropped its eighth decision in the last nine despite getting 22 points from Myles Turner and 21 from Buddy Hield to complement Mathurin. Turner grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, while T.J. McConnell added 17 points and matched the game-high with eight assists. Indiana shot 48.2 percent from the field and 42.9 from the 3-point line.

–Field Level Media