Paolo Banchero may have won the rookie battle, but the Houston Rockets won the three-point war.
Banchero had his second-straight 30-plus point game, while originally expected No. 1 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. was limited to just three points, but Houston knocked down 24 threes in a 134-127 shootout win over the Magic at Amway Center.
The Rockets were connecting from deep from the jump, hitting six of their first 10 attempts to take an early lead. But while Houston scored from the outside, the Magic attacked inside, getting some easy buckets in the paint. Paolo Banchero scored nine in the quarter and Jalen Suggs added eight, including a pretty coast-to-coast lay-in.
Threes by Eric Gordon and Usman Garuba in the closing minute of the quarter capped a 9-0 run for the Rockets to open a 33-28 lead. Franz Wagner drained a floater at the buzzer to pull the Magic within three heading into the second. The Magic shot 63.6 percent in the first but the Rockets went 9-for-17 from deep in the quarter.
Mo Bamba scored seven straight for the Magic during one stretch in the second, capped with a pair of alley-oops. Bamba’s put-back dunk later evened the scored at 54-54 with just under four minutes remaining in the half.
But the Rockets dropped 38 points in the second quarter, draining another five three-pointers in the quarter to finish 14-for-30 in the half. A late three-point play by Jalen Green opened Houston’s biggest lead of the first half at 71-63. The Magic shot over 65 percent from the field in the half and had four players in double figures, led by Banchero with 16.
The Magic pulled within one in the third when Franz Wagner chased down an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Banchero, who hit a three to make it 80-79. Smith then answered with a three of his own. The Magic cooled off in the third, shooting just 33 percent and committing seven turnovers in the quarter. The Magic went nearly six minutes without a field goal during one stretch. That contributed to.a 12-0 Houston run, during which Green hit a pair of threes and scored eight points to increase the Rockets’ lead to 95-81. The lead reached 17 before Wendell Carter Jr. hit a three and Chuma Okeke knocked down a put-back at the buzzer to pull Orlando within 100-88 going into the fourth.
Terrence Ross hit three pull-up jumpers early in the fourth as the Magic opened the quarter on an 11-3 run to pull within 103-100. But the threes kept falling for Houston, as the Rockets hit another three during a 12-0 run that pushed the lead back to 115-100 with 7:27 remaining.
A 15-4 run by the Magic, capped on a three by Ross, made it a six-point game with 2:12 to go. Ross soon followed with another three that brought the Magic within four, and Suggs had a chance to make it a one-possession game but couldn’t convert a drive in transition or draw contact with 25 seconds remaining.
The Rockets finished with 24 threes in 48 attempts. That was led by Green, who made five threes and had 34 points. Gordon also hit five from long range and had 19 points as the Rockets got their second win of the season and first on the road. Smith Jr., who missed the previous game with an illness, had just three points on 1-for-4 shooting in 22 minutes.
The Magic had an all-around efficient shooting night, shooting 54.9 percent from the field, going 12-for-24 from deep and 25 of 31 from the stripe. But the Rockets doubling up on the Magic from the perimeter was too much to overcome.
Banchero, who was coming off a season-best 33-point performance, finished with 30 points on 8-for-16 shooting, going 2 of 4 from deep and 12-for-14 from the free throw line. He added six rebounds and four assists.
Paolo Banchero tonight:— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) November 8, 2022
He becomes the 5th teenager in @NBAHistory
to have consecutive 30+ point games:
- LeBron James (2003)
- Devin Booker (2016)
- Luka Doncic (2019)
- Zion Williamson (2020)
(H/T @Sportradar) pic.twitter.com/TdEbKLgVXn
Wagner shot 9-for-12 from the field (3 of 4 from three) for 23 points to go along with seven assists and and five rebounds. Ross added 23 off the bench, going 5-for-10 from three.
The Magic homestead continues on Wednesday against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.