Paolo Banchero Comes Up Clutch; Magic’s Defense Stifling in Win Over Pelicans

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Paolo Banchero erupted for 29 points and made three clutch shots down the stretch, as the Orlando Magic, behind another stifling defensive effort, edged the New Orleans Pelicans 101-93 on Monday night at the Smoothie King Center. 

Key Stretch

Orlando, which led most of the way, closed the game on a 10-2 run. Banchero buried three straight mid-range jumpers in the final three minutes and change, including one that put the Magic ahead for good with 1:39 left, and Franz Wagner, who also did a spectacular job defending Brandon Ingram throughout the night, sealed the win with a floater from the baseline with 24 seconds remaining. 

Interesting Note

Banchero now has 30 20-plus-point games this season, the second most by a rookie in Magic history. Only Shaquille O’Neal had more with 60 such performances. Penny Hardaway, now third on this list, had 29 of them. 

Key Stats

The Magic held the Pelicans to just 6-of-27 3-point shooting (22.2 percent). That’s the fourth worst 3-point shooting performance by a Magic opponent this season. New Orleans also only scored 36 points in the paint. 

Injury/Inactive Report

Jonathan Isaac missed his second straight game due to a right hamstring strain. Caleb Houstan (G League – On Assignment) and Kevon Harris (G League – Two-Way) were also unavailable for Orlando. For New Orleans, E.J. Liddell (right knee; ACL injury recovery), Larry Nance Jr. (left ankle sprain), Dereon Seabron (G League – Two-Way), and Zion Williamson (right hamstring strain) were out. 

In the News

Michael Carter-Williams has rejoined the Magic after signing a contract on Sunday afternoon. This is the sixth contract the 31-year-old veteran point guard has signed with Orlando after initially joining the team on March 15, 2019. He last appeared in a game for the Magic on April 14, 2021. In 88 games thus far with the team, he’s averaging 7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals. 

Quote of the Day

“We are really excited to have him. He’s always been such a great veteran presence. His level of toughness, his voice in the locker room, just the experience he’s had throughout his career – he’s able to share that with these guys. I think that’s going to be great for these young guys to help learn and grow from him.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on MCW rejoining the team

This Day in History

On Feb. 27, 2002, the Magic overcame a six-point deficit with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to beat the Raptors in Toronto. Tracy McGrady, Darrell Armstrong, and Horace Grant each made clutch shots down the stretch. Toronto, meanwhile, missed its final 10 shots. T-Mac scored 24 for the Magic, while Vince Carter had 22 for the Raptors. 

Rivals Report

Back on Dec. 30, the Pelicans won their fifth straight game and moved into first place in the Western Conference with a 23-12 record. Since then, they’ve gone 7-19 and are now in 10th place in the West. Not having Williamson has obviously been the biggest factor, but also, they’ve struggled mightily with their 3-point shooting. Since Jan. 1, they rank 27th in 3-point percentage and 28th in 3-pointers made. 

Up Next

The Magic’s three-game road trip continues Wednesday when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks at 8 p.m. ET. This will be the second of three meetings between these teams this season. The Bucks won the first one at Amway Center on Dec. 5 behind 34 points and 13 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and 17 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists from Jrue Holiday. Franz Wagner led Orlando with 25 points, while Banchero and Markelle Fultz each scored 20 and Moe Wagner had 19 points and 12 rebounds.