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Paolo Banchero Leads Orlando Magic to Thrilling Win Over Utah Jazz

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

SALT LAKE CITY - After the game the other night against the L.A. Clippers, Paolo Banchero vowed to not let a few substandard performances to open the season bother him or cause him to be concerned.

Sure, like any other player that is as talented as he is, the 6-foot-10, 250-pounder was disappointed that his shots weren’t falling. But he knew it was only a matter of time before things started clicking again.

In Salt Lake City on Thursday night, he showed that patience, poise, and the right attitude is a ticket to success. 

Banchero erupted for a season-best 30 points, which included a go-ahead driving layup with 14.1 seconds left, as the Orlando Magic defeated the Utah Jazz 115-113 in a thriller at the Delta Center to wrap up a four-game West Coast trip.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, take advantage of the mismatches,” he said. “Just had to step up.”

On the go-ahead shot, he added, “Coach drew the play for me to get in the middle, so I had it in the middle of the floor. I knew he was going to expect me to go right, so I wanted to show right and then counter and go back left, and finish with the left.”

In a game that featured several wild momentum shifts, the Magic led by seven with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter before the Jazz responded with eight unanswered points. Lauri Markkanen, a first-time NBA All-Star last year who finished with 22 points, put Utah in front with a 3-pointer with 20.1 seconds remaining. 

Following Banchero’s clutch bucket, Talen Horton-Tucker missed a triple that was then rebounded by Wendell Carter Jr. Carter was fouled but hurt his hand on the play. Unable to take the free throws, the Jazz selected rookie Anthony Black, who got his first heavy minutes with Markelle Fultz out with left knee swelling and Gary Harris exiting early with a sore groin, to take the foul shots in his place.

Black, who made all four of his floor shots and finished with nine points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals, split the pair. Franz Wagner intercepted Kelly Olynyk’s in-bounds pass on the final play.

“Last year helped a lot. We were in that spot a bunch of times,” Wagner said about his team’s composure in the final seconds. “Last year when we were in that spot, we kind of lost it a little bit. The other side of it, Paolo made a great play to give us the lead back. The vibe in the huddle (after Markkanen’s go-ahead three) was pretty good and we had 19 seconds left. That’s a lot of time in a basketball game.” 

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley addressed the injuries to Fultz, Harris, and Carter after the game, but more examination was needed at that point before giving a proper diagnosis for each. Shortly after, it was announced that Carter suffered a fractured third metacarpal of his left hand. The course of treatment will be determined after the team’s return to Orlando.

Key to their offensive attack, the Magic took 36 free throws and made 27 of them. Banchero, who last season became the fourth rookie this century to average at least seven free throw attempts, matched his career high with 15 foul shots, knocking down 11 of them. 

Franz Wagner contributed with 21 points for the winners, while Cole Anthony scored 18 and Carter, before the last-second injury, had 14 points. 

Orlando led by as many as 14 and Utah, in the first half, had a 10-point advantage. 

The Magic return home for a rematch with the L.A. Lakers on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Lakers beat the Magic 106-103 on Monday night in L.A.