CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Paolo Banchero scored 31 points and finally got a couple of shots to drop from long range to help the Orlando Magic beat the Charlotte Hornets 117-106 on Friday night.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft was 1 of 33 on 3-point attempts in February and started this month 0 for 2 before going 2 of 6 from against the Hornets. It was his first game with multiple 3s since Jan. 30.
“It’s been a little tough but my teammates, coaches and everybody else has been encouraging me every day,” said Banchero, the three-time NBA Rookie of the Month. “I’m working on it and I know I can shoot. I’m not the best shooter, but I know I can knock down shots.”
Teammate Cole Anthony, a North Carolina product, borrowed a line from six-time NBA champion and Hornets owner Michael Jordan, saying of Banchero: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. … I want him to keep shooting.”
Banchero said he has been working on staying low with his jumper.
“Sometimes I have a tendency to stand straight up,” Banchero said. “That’s really what I’m working on.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 29 points and Terry Rozier added 22 for the Hornets, who lost their second straight since LaMelo Ball went down with a season-ending ankle injury.
Anthony had 16 points and Jalen Suggs added 15 off the bench for the Magic, who took three of four from the Hornets this season. The victory marked the fifth straight time the Magic have followed up a loss with a win.
“That has been the story the last three months for us; whenever we take a loss we seem to bounce right back,” Banchero said.
Orlando entered the game 4 1/2 games behind the Washington Wizards for 10th place in the Eastern Conference. And the Magic looked like the more motivated team.
Anthony and Suggs combined for 22 points in the first half as Orlando opened a 64-48 lead at the break. Injuries to Ball, P.J. Washington and Cody Martin have left the Hornets bench thin and Orlando’s reserves outscored Charlotte 47-23.
Banchero got hot in the second half, scoring 14 points in the third quarter as the Magic stretched the lead to 24.
The Hornets would rally to cut the lead to seven with 4 1/2 minutes on Oubre’s fourth 3-pointer, but Gary Harris scored on a wild, high-lofting underhanded left-handed layup that sailed several feet over the heads of two defenders before falling through the basket to push the lead safely back to double digits and essentially seal the win.
The Hornets had won five straight games before Ball fractured his ankle Monday night, but suddenly find themselves struggling to find their footing offensively in his absence. Ball had made 27 3s in the five games before the injury.
“We’re not going to be 125 (points) many nights now,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “When P.J. comes back it’ll help. That’s a different world. Offense is going to be hard here. We’re going to win by playing a lot harder than we did tonight, being a lot more physical and not making so many mistakes. You’ve got to know who you are.”
Magic: Franz Wagner left at halftime with a left ankle sprain and did not return. Coach Jamahl Mosley had no update on Wagner’s status after the game.
Hornets: Rozier recorded the 500th steal of his NBA career and his 300th as a member of the Hornets. … Washington missed his fourth straight game with a knee soreness.
Magic: Host Portland on Sunday night.
Hornets: At Brooklyn on Sunday night.
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