Banchero Scores 36 Points, Magic Beat Injury-Riddled Knicks 118-100

Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner (21) goes up for a shot as New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) and forward Jacob Toppin, left, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner (21) goes up for a shot as New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) and forward Jacob Toppin, left, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Paolo Banchero scored 36 points, Franz Wagner added 21 and the Orlando Magic beat the injury-riddled New York Knicks 118-100 on Wednesday night in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams.

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

“He’s an All-Star. You’ve got to guard a guy like that with your team,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “And he made his 3s. That was a big thing. But he gets into the paint. He’s big, he’s strong and he has a good mix of shots.”

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 was overmatched in a fourth straight loss.

“This break is obviously good for us. We’re the walking wounded right now,” Brunson said. “But I’m more than happy with what we’ve been able to do in the first two-thirds of the season. So quick reset and be able to go next week."

The Knicks take a 33-22 record into their eight-day break. The Magic (30-25) did not win their 30th game last season until March 31, and didn't reach 30 wins at all in the two seasons before that.

“I think it 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 satisfied 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 moved ahead for the rest of the game.

“I thought our starters did a really good job,” Thibodeau said. “We got into transition some so (Brunson) could attack before the defense got set. And then when he went to the bench, it changed.”

When Brunson got back on the floor, he was guarded mostly 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 stretching its lead to 23 in the fourth quarter.

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

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

UP NEXT

Knicks: Visit Philadelphia on Feb. 22.

Magic: Visit Cleveland on Feb. 22.