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Paolo Banchero leads Magic’s win over Thunder

Jan 4, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) blocks a shot by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

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, Fla.

With Bol Bol out placed 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, with Gary Harris and Terrence Ross each adding 18 points, while Wendell Carter Jr. scored 13 points with 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) from the floor in the frame to lead 70-53 at the break.

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 their 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 non-COVID illness, scored 13 of his 33 points in the third.

Gilgeous-Alexander 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 from the floor, its ninth game of the season shooting at 50 percent or better. The Magic outscored the Thunder 48-30 in the paint.

–Field Level Media