Paolo Banchero shakes off illness, Magic knock off Cavs on the road

Magic forward Paolo Banchero had yet to miss a single game this season and that wasn’t about to change Thursday night at Cleveland.

The reigning Rookie of the Year was added to Orlando‘s injury report earlier in the morning due to an illness and was considered questionable before he was upgraded to available pregame.

“Resiliency,” coach Jamahl Mosley said about Banchero playing. “He was way under the weather this morning but [he had the] ability to bounce back, get some rest early on.

“That All-Star break was a lot for a lot of these guys so being able to recover and get back the right way is very important.”

Banchero started alongside Jalen Suggs (7 points), Gary Harris (8), Franz Wagner (14) and Wendell Carter Jr. (12) against the Cavaliers (36-18), who entered the contest second in the East and played without All-Star Donovan Mitchell.

Banchero struggled, only shooting 4-for-15 for 12 points in 34 minutes in the 116-109 victory for the Magic (31-25). But his 3-pointer with 1:34 left essentially shut the door on any comeback hopes for Cleveland, extending the lead to 11 as the teams split the season series 2-2.

The opening lineup had only played 21 total minutes together across four games entering Thursday.

In that stretch, the group posted a positive net rating (plus-19.8) with a 50% effective field-goal percentage — a formula that adjusts for 3-pointers being worth more than made 2-pointers.

Mosley went to a Suggs-Harris backcourt in the starting lineup because Markelle Fultz (left knee injury maintenance) was not available.

It was a change from previous instances when Fultz was out. Rookie Anthony Black (9 points) had started in place of Fultz, who had missed 27 games with left knee tendinitis.

For Harris, it’s his seventh start.

Fultz didn’t play on the second night of a back-to-back in the last game before the break and has only been available 21 times this year.

“We always talk about wanting to be smart the way in which these guys approach getting back into the game,” Mosley said Thursday. “He sat that last New York game [before the break]. Being able to recover the right way, that’s very important for this group for the long haul for what we’re continuing to do.”

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Moe Wagner (22 points) led a bench that scored 63 points, coming through in the fourth quarter in particular when he scored on a revere layup against a good shot blocker in Jarrett Allen, stripped him on Cleveland’s next possession, screened open Franz Wagner for a drive and layup and knocked down a 3 above the break as Orlando pulled away.

Without Mitchell (illness), Isaac Okoro started alongside Darius Garland, Max Strus, Evan Mobley and Allen.

The Magic continue their three-game road trip Saturday in Detroit for the first game of a back-to-back. Orlando plays at Atlanta the next night.

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