Magic defeat Pelicans 121-106 behind Banchero's triple-double

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Orlando, Forida.
Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Orlando, Forida.AP Photo

ORLANDO, Florida — Paolo Banchero had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for second career triple-double, overcoming early shooting woes to help the Orlando Magic beat the New Orleans Pelicans 121-106 on Thursday night.

At 42-28, the Magic wrapped up their second winning seasons in 12 years. They have won 18 of 23 games.

Banchero missed his first 10 shots, two of them free throws, then rallied to finish 9 of 18 from the field. Jalen Suggs led Orlando with 22 points, and Franz Wagner added 18.

Trey Murphy III had 21 points for New Orleans. Zion Williamson added 20 points, seven rebounds and a spectacular block of Banchero that helped New Orleans get off to a good start. Williamson also had eight turnovers.

WIZARDS 109, KINGS 102

WASHINGTON — Kyle Kuzma scored 31 points and Washington snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over Sacramento.

Kuzma, who also had six rebounds, had missed the team’s previous two games with shoulder soreness. Deni Avdija added 17 points and Corey Kispert scored 15, sending Sacramento to their first loss in the last five meetings in Washington.

Jordan Poole scored 14 for the Wizards.

BUCKS 115, NETS 108

MILWAUKEE — Damian Lillard had 30 points and 12 assists and made two late steals as Milwaukee capitalized on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s return to beat Brooklyn.

Antetokounmpo had 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists after missing two games because of an issue with his left hamstring. The Bucks rested Khris Middleton a night after he played 33 minutes in a 122-119 loss at Boston, as they continue to manage his workload in his recovery from a sprained left ankle.

Mikal Bridges scored 24 points, Nic Claxton had 22 and Cam Thomas 21 for the Nets, who made a big second-half comeback but still lost their fifth straight.

ROCKETS 127, BULLS 117

HOUSTON — Jalen Green scored 26 points, Dillon Brooks had 23 before he was ejected from the game and Houston won against Chicago.

Houston has gone 9-1 in March and is now just 2 1/2 games behind Golden State for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets’ seven-game winning streak is their longest since 2021.

Jock Landale scored 17, Aaron Holiday had 15 and Jeff Green added 14, all off the bench for Houston. Amen Thompson had 15 points and eight rebounds.

MAVERICKS 113, JAZZ 97

DALLAS — Luka Doncic had 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Dallas beat Utahto move into the sixth and final guaranteed playoff position in the Western Conference.

Dallas improved to 41-29 with its third straight victory and seventh in eight games. The Mavericks moved a half-game ahead of Sacramento and Phoenix, which faced Atlanta at home Thursday in a late game. Sacramento lost at Washington earlier Thursday.

Doncic didn’t have a rebound or an assist in the fourth quarter, playing four minutes. He shot 11 of 23 from the floor, 4 of 10 on 3s.

Daniel Gafford added 24 points, his high game since being acquired in early February. Gafford missed the second half of the second quarter after crumpling to the court and being helped to the locker room, then returned to start the second half.

Kyrie Irving scored 16 points, 11 in the second half.

Lauri Markkanen led Utah with 21 points after missing the previous seven games because of a quadriceps injury. Collin Sexton added 20 off the bench.

NUGGETS 113, KNICKS 100

DENVER — Michael Porter Jr. had a sensational shooting night on his way to 31 points, Nikola Jokic notched his 22nd triple-double of the season and Denver Nuggets held off New York.

Jokic finished with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists as the reigning champion Nuggets improved to 13-2 since the All-Star break and climb within percentage points of first place in the Western Conference.

Porter was 13 of 16 from the field — including a pass to himself off the glass for a dunk — and 2 of 2 from the free-throw line. Porter also had three 3-pointers to give him 193 for the season and break Dale Ellis’ single-season team mark set in 1996-97.

Jamal Murray added 23 points before limping off the floor with just under a minute remaining after hurting his ankle. (AP)

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