Banchero scores 18 as Magic beat struggling Wizards
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Rookie Paolo Banchero had 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and the Orlando Magic beat the Washington Wizards 122-112 on Tuesday night.
Orlando won for the first time in eight games against Washington. Gary Harris scored 22 points for the Magic, and Franz Wagner had 20 points. Reserve guard Cole Anthony finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Orlando and Washington are trying to earn a spot in the postseason. The Wizards (32-40) went into the game 11th in the East, two games out of the final play-in spot. The Magic (30-43) are 13th.
“That’s a team we had to beat,” said Anthony. “They’re ahead of us. But we’ll take a win any way we can get it.”
Kristaps Porzingis scored 30 points for the Wizards, who lost for the sixth time in seven games. Bradley Beal had 16 points and seven assists before fouling out with 2:55 remaining.
The Wizards had beaten the Magic by 19 and 20 points earlier this season, and to coach Wes Unseld Jr., that may have been part of their problem Tuesday night.
“I’m not sure why we would think we would be able to just walk into a win — we have to earn it, we have to take it,” he said. “We’re not good enough to assume we can flip a switch at some point and things are going to go away.”
“It is frustrating, but this is part of our job,” Porzingis said. “I know a lot of these guys know what it's like to be on the other side, to be winning and having all this fun. Right now we are on the side that is not as fun, but we have to figure out a way.”
Franz Wagner closed out the first half with a couple of 3-pointers to lift Orlando to a 60-56 lead.
Washington rallied in the third quarter, and Kendrick Nunn opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a 91-87 advantage.
Wagner then scored the next six points to put Orlando ahead to stay, and the Wizards went scoreless for nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
Banchero, playing one of the more efficient games of his season, matched his season high with nine of the Magic's 27 assists.
“That's the biggest part about his game. He does love to pass the basketball,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He wants to find the pass and find his teammates. I think it's great that he was recognizing the things going on the game, recognizing the coverages they were in. And on the other side of it, he made shots."
Wizards: F Kyle Kuzma did not play after spraining an ankle against Sacramento on Saturday night. Unseld described it as a “pretty significant sprain.” ... Deni Avdija had 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Magic: Harris was 6 for 9 from 3-point range, raising his season percentage to .440, which is among the NBA's top 10. ... G Jalen Suggs missed a third game after sustaining a concussion at Phoenix on Thursday. . . . The Magic's last win over the Wizards came on Dec. 27, 2020.
Wizards: Host Denver on Wednesday night.
Magic: Host New York on Thursday night.
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