Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero, left, looks to pass the ball as he is defended by Washington Wizards' Corey Kispert during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Magic Pick Up Bounce-Back Win

The Orlando Magic (30-43) were able to pick up a hard-fought win Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards (32-40).

This victory comes off the heels of a loss the Magic suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers (35-37) Sunday. This game was the first of a three-game homestand for Orlando.

Game Trends

Prior to tip-off, Magic rookie-of-the-year candidate Paolo Banchero was honored with the rookie of the month award for February. This was Banchero’s third time winning the award, more than any other rookie this season.

This game was heavily contested throughout, with the only real separation in score coming in the fourth quarter. Both teams traded baskets throughout the first half. The Magic entered halftime with a four-point advantage thanks to a few tough baskets by guard Cole Anthony.

The third quarter was just as contested as the first two, with the Wizards gaining the upper-hand. Orlando had a tough time stopping Washington forward Kristaps Porzingis and he poured in 14 points in the quarter. The Magic went into the the fourth down 88-87.

Orlando started the fourth quarter off on fire, and continued the momentum throughout. They regained the lead early in the quarter and never looked back, ballooning their lead to as much as 13 points. The team took care of business at the free throw line down the stretch and came out with the 122-112 victory.

Behind the Numbers

Orlando received large contributions from nearly everyone who played in this matchup. Every Magic starter scored in double figures, and seven players total reached that mark for the team.

The scoring was balanced and the team shot an efficient 53.8% from the field. As a team, Orlando shot 12-27 from three and used its efficient 3-point shooting to stay ahead late in the fourth quarter.

Magic guard Gary Harris led the way scoring, contributing 22 points with six 3-pointers made in just 24 minutes of play. Banchero flirted with a triple-double, as he scored 18 points with nine rebounds and eight assists.

For the Wizards, Porzingis carried the majority of the scoring burden. He put up 30 points with six rebounds and two blocks. Star guard and Gator alum Bradley Beal struggled shooting the ball in this one. He scored 16 points on an inefficient 4-15 from the field with seven assists and five rebounds.

The team’s struggles from 3-point-range was a factor in the loss, as they only shot 31.3% from behind the arc.

What Now?

After this victory, the Magic remain in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, behind the Washington Wizards, and sit five games out of the play-in. With nine games remaining on the team’s regular season schedule, chances of making the play-in tournament seem unlikely.

Despite this, the Magic have shown improvement this season and seem to be heading in the right direction. The team is full of young talent and Banchero is looking like he has the makings to become a super star in the league.

Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero (5) drives to the basket against Washington Wizards’ Deni Avdija (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Orlando next takes the hardwood Thursday night at 7, when they host the New York Knicks.

About Austin Stirling

Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major with a sports media focus. He is aspiring for a career in sports media writing, production or sports content creation. Contact him at austinstirlingg@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg

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