Paolo Banchero’s Amway Center debut was a success in every meaning of the word.
Not only did Orlando win Tuesday night’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, the rookie sensation totaled 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists in the contest.
The game started with a lob from Franz Wagner to Wendell Carter Jr., sparking a 6-0 run for the Magic. Part of that run was Banchero’s first bucket on his home floor: a smooth, 18-foot step back jumper; hopefully indicative of what he will do in that building for years to come.
Following an and-one layup by Banchero, Orlando led 16-9 with 6:50 remaining in the first period. And out of that first stoppage of play, the Magic’s offense kept flowing: the team scored seven straight points and extended their lead to 14 before Memphis took their first timeout.
With Orlando’s reserves now in the game, the Magic led by as much as 18 and closed the opening quarter with a 31-17 lead.
Memphis opened the second quarter on an 8-2 run, and following a Tyus Jones’ transition three-pointer, Orlando took their first timeout of the game.
With the Magic’s starters (Cole Anthony, Terrence Ross, Banchero, Wagner and Carter Jr.) back in to close the half, Orlando maintained a seven-point advantage (54-47) heading into halftime.
Memphis’ Desmond Bane led all scorers with 17 points in the first half and Banchero totaled a team-high 13 points for Orlando.
Franz Wagner in the first half:— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 12, 2022
+15 +/- pic.twitter.com/g3kz7yuxHH
Early in the third quarter, Banchero picked up his fourth foul but Jahmal Mosley kept him in the game: a decision that ultimately paid off considering the Magic pushed their lead to 11 (70-59) before Memphis took a timeout with 6:42 remaining in the third.
Caleb Houstan, who also made his Amway Center debut Tuesday, finished the game with 13 points off Orlando’s bench and knocked down a three-pointer to push the Magic’s lead to 12 (77-65) with 2:01 remaining. But Memphis’ Santi Aldama closed the third on a 6-0 run single-handedly and Orlando led by just six (77-71) heading into the final period of play.
In the early minutes of the fourth quarter, back-to-back dunks extended Orlando’s lead to eight (83-75) and Memphis was forced to take another timeout with 9:47 remaining.
The Grizzlies cut the Magic’s lead to five (85-80) with 7:40 remaining, but consecutive threes from Houstan and Bol Bol put Orlando up by 11 with 6:34 to go.
The final five minutes of the game had the intensity of a regular season matchup. With 2:53 remaining, the Grizzlies tied the game at 95, but a three-point play by Carter Jr. gave Orlando the lead once again.
With 42.5 seconds to go, Ross was fouled on a three-pointer by Memphis’ Xavier Tillman Sr. and converted two of his three free throws, pushing Orlando’s lead to five (102-97). But in the blink of an eye, that lead was cut to two following an and-one layup by Memphis’ Ja Morant.
That said, with 32.7 seconds remaining, Wagner sealed the game for Orlando when he drilled a step back three-pointer and then stole the ball from Morant on the other end, resulting in a runout and more free throws for Ross.
Wagner nearly recorded a triple-double in the win (14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) and Carter Jr. lead the team in scoring with 18 points. Bane totaled a game-high 33 points for Memphis.
The Magic’s victory moves the team to 3-1 this preseason, and their final preseason game will be this Friday, Oct. 14, against the Cleveland Cavaliers.