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Paolo Banchero joins LeBron James exclusive company in Game 7 loss to Cavs

After Friday night’s thriller victory in Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic fell short in their playoff run, losing 106-94 in Game 7 on Sunday.

The Magic took the field with determination and took an early lead in the first half. They went ahead by as many as eighteen points before the Cavaliers closed the gap to within ten points at halftime, with the Magic leading 53-43. However, the Cavaliers seized control in the second half and increased their offensive prowess to score 63 points while tightening their defense, holding the Magic to just forty-one points. Orlando struggled to find its rhythm, shooting just 33.7% from the field. The Cavaliers took advantage of the turnover and forced the Magic into seventeen giveaways that translated into seventeen points.

Donovan Mitchell, who had a sensational 50-point performance in Game 6, initially faced a rough shooting night in the first half with 15 points on 3 for 13 shooting. However, he erupted after halftime and scored twenty-four points to finish the game with an impressive thirty-nine points, nine rebounds and a remarkable seventeen trips to the free throw line, fifteen of which were converted.

Paolo Banchero joins LeBron James in record-breaking Game 7 performance

Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro (35) during the first quarter of game seven of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the loss, Paolo Banchero had a standout performance in Game 7, showing his potential as a cornerstone for the Magic’s future. By halftime, Banchero had already collected twenty-four points, setting a record as the youngest player to reach that mark in a Game 7. He finished the game with a remarkable double-double, totaling 38 points and 16 rebounds, as he demonstrated exceptional efficiency. from the free throw line and hit fifteen of eighteen attempts. His stellar play earned him a place in the record books, joining LeBron James as the youngest players to score thirty or more points in three or more playoff games in a single series. Banchero also joined LeBron as the youngest players to score twenty-one or more points in a half, becoming the youngest to ever score twenty-four points in a half in Game 7.

Reflecting on the momentum shift, Banchero acknowledged the Cavaliers’ resurgence in the second half, fueled by Donovan Mitchell’s great play and the electric atmosphere. He emphasized the intensity of the game, describing it as the most rigorous challenge of his career.

“After half time things really changed. They started the third really well and then the crowd got into it, they got going, Donovan Mitchell got going and he carried a little bit. I think they saw him get going and the guys started shooting and making plays,” Banchero noted.

Banchero reflects on his first career Game 7 and looks forward to the Magic’s promising future

Regarding the Game 7 environment, Banchero expressed awe at the intensity of the matchup.

“It was a bloody environment. Probably the most intense game I’ve played in my life, just with the crowd, the possession-versus-possession battles and the toll it takes on your body and on your mind. Every second of the match is intense,” he said.

After putting in a remarkable performance in Game 7, Paolo Banchero finishes the series with impressive averages of 27.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. These statistics highlight Banchero’s invaluable contributions during the playoffs, further cementing his status as a key player for the Magic’s future efforts.

Looking ahead, Banchero expressed optimism about the Magic’s future, highlighting the team’s resilience during the playoffs and its potential for continued growth.

“I think after those first two games, everyone looked at us like, oh, I don’t know if they’re ready and whatever, and that we were just going to take this to seven and have a great first half. Then let them fight every inch to get back in and ultimately beat you. It shows where we are going, shows what we can do, and this year in itself. I think it’s really encouraging for everyone, players, coaches, the whole organization, so we’re really going to build on this,” concluded Banchero.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers ending the Orlando Magic’s playoff run, questions arise about the team’s next steps heading into the offseason. However, the foundation for a promising future appears to be firmly in place for the Magic.