Orlando takes down New Orleans 116-104 with record night for Paolo Banchero

ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic (42-28) defeated the New Orleans Pelicans (42-27) 121-106 on Thursday night in front of over 17 thousand fans at the Kia Center. Even though this was not a sold-out crowd, the fans’ energy was intense.

The Pelicans, who were closely matched with the Magic in record and in the Western Conference standings (5th Place), came into Orlando riding a three-game winning streak, including an impressive 112-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Photo courtesy of the Orlando Magic

New Orleans started the game looking like a team on fire, putting the Magic players on their heels with precision passing and shooting, showing a strong flow on both sides of the ball. They continued the trend of recent Orlando opponents by crowding the paint to prevent inside scoring, holding the Magic to zero points in the paint in the first quarter.

The Pelicans built a 12-point lead over the Magic during the first quarter, keeping Paolo Banchero scoreless. However, with an intense playoff-style crowd response, the Magic managed to regroup and narrow the gap, ending the quarter 28-23, trailing by only five points.

Orlando’s second unit was instrumental in this comeback, with Joe Ingle making key passes to open Magic players, while Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony’s athleticism and ball movement challenged the Pelicans.

The Magic had a strong second quarter, outscoring the Pelicans 34-20, and went into halftime with a 57-48 lead, with Banchero scoring four points in the second quarter. Shooting 66% in the second quarter, the Magic found their rhythm after shots that didn’t fall in the first quarter started to drop. The Magic remained poised, a quality they have developed over the past two seasons.

“Yeah, I think it was more about staying poised than making adjustments,” said Banchero. “I think we were getting a lot of clean looks to start the game. They just didn’t drop. We just kept coming to the huddle and telling each other ‘Don’t panic. Don’t get worried. We’re getting what we want as long as we defend.’ That just shows how much we trust each other and how close we are.”

Orlando, Florida, USA, November 4, 2023, Orlando Magic players Paolo Banchero #5 and Jalen Suggs #4 having a conversation during the first half at the Amway Center. (Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis)

The Magic dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Pelicans 20-8 in the paint, forcing more turnovers, and building a 20-point lead.

Early in the third quarter, forward Brandon Ingram sustained a knee injury while trying to stop a drive by the Magic. He immediately headed to the locker room, and it was later announced that he would not return to the game due to a left knee bone contusion.

Orlando finished the quarter up 95-75, with Paolo Banchero already securing a triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, his second of the season.

Another key factor was Zion Williamson’s foul trouble, which kept him on the bench for most of the game. With Williamson sidelined and Ingram out, Orlando capitalized on inside attacks.

Orlando finished the game with 121 points, led by Jalen Suggs with 22 points, followed by Banchero with 20 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. The Magic shot 55% from the field, dominated the Pelicans 60-54 in the paint, and 20-5 in second-chance points.

As a result of the game and other division results, the Magic moved to fourth place, swapping spots with the New York Knicks.

Orlando hosts the Sacramento Kings on Saturday at the Kia Center, another crucial game in their playoff hunt.

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