Banchero leads fightback as Magic upset Sixers

LOS ANGELES (AFP) -- Paolo Banchero led a second-half fightback as the Orlando Magic overturned a 21-point deficit to upset the Philadelphia 76ers 119-109 on Monday, Jan. 30.

Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic dunks during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on January 30, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (AFP)

Rookie Banchero, the number one pick in last year's draft, scored 29 points from 11-of-22 shooting with nine rebounds and three assists to give Orlando another notable scalp after last week's defeat of league-leading Boston.

Banchero was backed with scoring support from German brothers Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner, who combined for 41 points as Orlando silenced Philadelphia's home crowd with a second-half scoring blitz.

Philadelphia, who dropped to third in the Eastern Conference standings after the loss, led by 21 points midway through the second quarter and appeared poised for a comfortable victory.

But Orlando erupted after the break with a 42-point third quarter to edge into the lead and then closed with a 19-8 run in the fourth to seal the victory.

Moritz Wagner finished with 22 points off the bench while younger brother Franz added 19.

Markelle Fultz had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists while Wendell Carter Jr. also cracked double figures with 12 points.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers scoring with 30 points while James Harden and Tobias Harris had 17 points apiece.

"I'm so proud of these young men," Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said of his team afterwards.

"The way that first half started -- we were hanging our heads a little bit. But we pulled ourselves together at half-time and talked about our belief system and what we’re capable of doing, and we showed up.

"It shows growth and that they're learning from their experiences – they find a way to bounce back, find a way to believe in each other."

Banchero said Mosley had rallied the locker room at half-time.

"He fired us up," Banchero said. "Just told us we need to play better, play harder, that we're a very good team we need to act like it."

Sixers coach Doc Rivers had few complaints after his side's defeat, describing Orlando as worthy winners.

"I thought from near the end of the first quarter, they played harder, faster, tougher, more physical," Rivers said. "I think they deserved to win."

Orlando remain languishing near the foot of the Eastern Conference, with 20 wins against 31 defeats.

Elsewhere on Monday, a depleted Los Angeles Lakers slid to defeat on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Lakers, missing LeBron James and Anthony Davis from their lineup, fell 121-104.

Kyrie Irving led the Brooklyn scoring with 26 points as the Nets recovered after falling behind in the third quarter to outscore Los Angeles 36-22 in the fourth quarter.