Banchero scored 36 points, Magic beat injury-plagued Knicks 118-100

Orlando, Fla. (AP) – Paulo Banchero scored 36 points and Franz Wagner had 21 as the Orlando Magic beat the injury-plagued New York Knicks 118-100 in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams on Wednesday night.

Banchero hit six 3-point shots and the Magic shot 63% against a Knicks team that played with nine players.

„He's an All-Star. You have to protect a guy like that on your team,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. „He made his 3s. That's a big deal. But he gets into the paint. He's big, he's strong and he's got good looks.

Jalen Brunson had 33 points and six assists for the Knicks. But after a big first quarter, the Knicks' healthy All-Star saw his team overachieved in its fourth straight loss.

„This break is obviously good for us. We're a walking wound right now,” Branson said. “But I'm really happy with what we've been able to do in the first two-thirds of the season. So a quick reset and let's go next week.”

The Knicks took a 33-22 record into their eight-day stretch. The Magic (30-25) didn't win their 30th game until March 31 last season and didn't reach 30 in the previous two seasons.

„I think that says a lot,” Banchero said. „We started talking this year about how much we wanted to improve and now we want to come out after the break and make a final push. I don't think we're complacent, but it's definitely something you can be proud of.

Brunson scored 20 points in the first quarter, and the Knicks led 39-27 when Alec Burks opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer. But with Brunson on the bench, the Magic ran off 17 straight points — 12 of them by Franz and Moritz Wagner — and cruised the rest of the game.

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„I thought our starters did a good job,” Thibodeau said. „We got into some transitions so (Brunson) could attack before the defense set up. Then when he went to the bench, that changed.

When Brunson returned to the floor, he was mostly guarded by 6-foot-10 Franz Wagner and 6-11 Jonathan Isaac and had trouble getting clean looks at the basket.

Orlando shot 71% in the first half and led 65-55 at halftime before extending its lead to 23 in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks were without six players, including All-Star forward Julius Randle, who missed the ninth game with a shoulder injury. Donte DiVincenzo (hamstring), Bojan Bogdanovic (calf) and Isaiah Hardenstein (Achilles tendon) were ruled out shortly before the game. Thibodeau said he expects DiVincenzo, Bogdanovic and Hardenstein to return after the break.

The Magic were without guards Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris, all of whom played Tuesday night against Oklahoma City.


Knicks: Travel to Philadelphia on February 22.

Magic: Visit Cleveland on February 22.

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