For the 12th time in franchise history and second time this season, eight Magic players scored in double figures on Wednesday night, including rookie Paolo Banchero, who recorded 25 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists in Orlando’s 126-115 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Amway Center.
After a pair of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander free throws pulled OKC within eight with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Magic reeled off six straight points to put the game out of reach. Banchero buried a mid-range pull-up and two free throws and Markelle Fultz, who finished with 13 points, connected from close range.
The Magic outscored the Thunder by 18 in the paint and outrebounded them by 17. They also held OKC to just nine fast break points and 40.9 percent on floor shots.
The other time this season the Magic had eight players score in double figures was on Dec. 14 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Quote of the Day
“It honestly feels really great. I feel good and really just progressing along. I’m just super excited. I’m happy to get back into the fold with the guys…I still know what I’m doing out there. The conditioning and all that stuff is getting better and better, so I feel better while I’m out there. And banging and bumping and being able to be myself, it feels good to get out there and just be free.” – Jonathan Isaac
Bol Bol (health and safety protocols), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness), Chuma Okeke (left knee surgery), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) were out for the Magic. Moe Wagner, Franz Wagner, Admiral Schofield and Kevon Harris were suspended for this game for their roles in last week’s altercation in Detroit. Aleksej Pokusevski (lower leg), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (ankle), Ousmane Dieng (wrist) and Chet Holmgren (foot) were unavailable for the Thunder.
This Day in History
On Jan. 4, 1995, Penny Hardaway filled up the stat sheet with 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Shaquille O’Neal scored 25 points and Nick Anderson had 20, as the Magic defeated the New Jersey Nets. Derrick Coleman led the Nets with 19 points, while Kenny Anderson and Chris Morris each scored 18.
As good as Gilgeous-Alexander has been this year, and no matter how many flashes Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams, and some of their other young players show, the Thunder’s long-term outlook hinges on the health and productivity of Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 draft. OKC needs him to be a defensive ace, first and foremost, and then be the perfect complement to the others on offense. Some might say it was a setback for him to be out for the season with the foot injury he suffered over the summer. Others might say it allows him to build up his body before he steps on an NBA floor.
A rare occurrence, the Magic will play on back-to-back nights at home, with Thursday’s opponent at Amway Center at 7 p.m. being the Memphis Grizzlies. This will be the first of two regular season meetings between the Magic and Grizzlies. They did square off twice in the preseason, however. Each side won on their home floor. Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 22 points in Memphis’ win on Oct. 3, while Carter led six Orlando players in double figures in the Magic’s victory on Oct. 11. Franz Wagner drilled a clutch step-back 3-pointer late in that game and then swiped the ball away from Morant.