NCAA Basketball

Banchero, Harris lead Magic to 126-120 win over Pacers

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Paolo Banchero scored 23 points and Garry Harris made all six of his 3-point shots and added 22 points as the Orlando Magic held off a late rally to beat the Indiana Pacers 126-120 on Wednesday night.

Bennedict Mathurin came off the Pacers’ bench to score 26 points for the second straight game, and Myles Turner added 22 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana, which was coming off a 116-110 win over Chicago a night earlier. Buddy Hield hit his first five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points.

Wendell Carter Jr. had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic. Orlando made 15 of 28 attempts from 3-point range and shot 56% overall.

Harris, who made 8 of 9 shots, was the only one of 11 Magic players without an assist.

“My teammates did a good job of finding me,” he said. “When the ball moves like it did — I mean, we had a season high in assists (34) today. When the ball bounces, you’ve got to step it up and shoot the ball with confidence.

“(My shots) definitely came in the rhythm of the game. We did a great job moving the ball.”

The Pacers fell behind 11-0 and never caught up, losing for the eighth time in nine games since NBA assists leader Tyrese Haliburton went out with a sprained left knee and sprained left elbow.

Banchero scored 13 points in the Magic’s 46-point first quarter, in which they shot 64% and built a 17-point lead.

“Awful first quarter. We have to get off to a better start,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “They hit us with a lot of shots, drives to the basket, and we were on our heels. The second night of back-to-backs is no excuse, because we’ve been good all year in those situations.”

Hield hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Pacers got back within two points before trailing 73-68 at halftime.

Orlando regained a double-digit lead just before the third-quarter buzzer on Franz Wagner’s layup after a Jalen Suggs layup.

The Magic trailed by 17 points early in the fourth quarter before Indiana closed within four in the final minute.

It was the ninth win for the Magic in their last 12 home games.

– The defense will have to be our identity in order for us to make the playoffs. It’s kind of a push right now, that’s what everybody’s mindset is,” Carter said. “Defending home is going to be huge for us.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Hield finished with six 3s and raised his NBA-leading total to 191. … Haliburton missed his eighth straight game but may play Friday night. … G Andrew Nembhard missed another game due to illness.

Magic: F Jonathan Isaac, playing in his second game since missing two and a half seasons with a torn left ACL, had five points and two assists in eight minutes. … Franz Wagner was the only starter who also started the last game against Indiana, Dec. 16.

HUGE PRAISE TO THE SMOKE

Nine-year veteran Harris on Banchero: “I’ve never seen anybody come into the league the way he’s come into the league, how locked-in, focused, how mature he is. I’ve never seen a rookie like him. It’s been fun to share the court with him.”

Carter on the same topic: “He just gets to play basketball. … We’re at our best when he’s aggressive, and he understands that. He understands that there’s a lot of pressure on him as No. 1, but he’s so calm and assembled out there.”

NEXT

Pacers: Host Milwaukee Friday night.

Magic: In Miami Friday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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