Magic rookie Paolo Banchero reacts to returning after 7-game absence

Magic rookie Paolo Banchero reacts to returning after 7-game absence

Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero returned on Friday after a seven-game absence due to a sprained left ankle and scored 19 points in a loss at home to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Banchero added eight rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and one steal in the 107-99 loss. He finished by shooting 8-of-14 from the field, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range, in 35 minutes of work in his first game since Nov. 7.

The No. 1 pick looked to pick up where he left off prior to the injury. He stayed aggressive on offense and continued to find success getting into the paint and finishing at the rim. He also helped facilitate things and get his teammates involved.

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley liked the effort by Banchero.

We knew it was going to take time. Catching that first wind was a big portion of it but I thought he looked good. After all of this time, just being able to walk back in and get a rhythm as the game went on.

Banchero had put up back-to-back 30-point performances prior to the injury. He looked to be in a great groove at that point of the season and was seemingly scoring at will. The Magic greatly missed his production, and now have their top pick back in the fold.

The injury was the first major setback of his career at any level of basketball. He was initially trying to rush through his recovery but eventually learned to slow down and be patient with the rehab process.

He is still working to get completely back into game shape.

My body definitely has some catching up to do, just soreness and not playing for two weeks. It was fun getting back out there. It was fun playing. I think I could have played a lot better but I got to the foul line and whatnot. I’m definitely trying to improve and play better in the future.

Banchero is now averaging 23.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 45.9% shooting from the field in 12 games. He is one of two first-year players with multiple 30-point outings and has scored at least 20 points nine times. He is first among rookies in scoring and rebounding.

The Magic return to face the Sixers again on Sunday at 6 p.m. EST.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire