Paolo Banchero fills Magic rookie with praise after 1st NBA start vs. Lakers

Orel Dizon
3 Min Read
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Orlando Magic on Saturday despite Orlando missing key players and thrusting rookie Anthony Black into the starting lineup for the first time in his career.

Magic star Paolo Banchero effused praise on his young teammate, pointing out Black’s impressive plus-minus of +32, which also happened to be the highest among all players in the matchup.

The No. 6 pick of the 2023 draft has had a spotty start to his career, as Orlando’s guard depth has caused him to see limited playing time in the squad’s first games of the season. He didn’t even get to play in the Magic’s second and third contests. However, injuries to Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris allowed him the opportunity of a lifetime against the Lakers.

Black didn’t disappoint, pouring in 11 points, four rebounds and two assists to help his team rout Los Angeles 120-101.

Banchero had a terrific night, too, scoring 25 points and showcasing a dazzling array of offensive moves against the Purple and Gold. The reigning Rookie of the Year has had a solid sophomore campaign so far, averaging 17.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. He has also been stellar on defense, helping Orlando limit its opponents to 103.5 points per match.

With the loss, the Lakers dropped to 3-3 in the standings. While having several players injured likely played a role in the result, the squad could have also done better in some aspects of the game.

For instance, in the latter part of the first quarter, it let the Magic go on a 13-0 run, with Banchero scoring seven during that stretch.

Furthermore, the Lakers were outclassed in the rebounding department. The Magic finished with 51 boards, with 19 coming on the offensive end. As for Los Angeles, it hauled in just 40 rebounds.

Los Angeles has a day off on Sunday to try to regroup for its road contest against the Miami Heat on Monday. After that, the team will head back west to face off against the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. Hopefully, the Lakers can bounce back and finish their four-game road trip on a positive note.

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