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Bamba, Main Starters Return for Orlando Magic But Still Fall to 76ers at Home, 116-106



Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid attempts a shot with Orlando guard Chuma Okeke at his rear during the Magic's home game against the 76ers Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Orlando Magic felt a bit more like their early season selves Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Mo Bamba and Terrence Ross returned and started for the Magic, while Chuma Okeke returned for the Magic bench.


First Half

The Magic played more aggressively in this game, ending the first quarter tied with Philly at 33 points.

Play of the 2nd quarter: As Philly attempted a shot, Orlando’s Freddy Gillespie jumped up with the block. Tim Frazier caught the rebound and passed it to Cole Anthony, who layed it up.

In another power play in the second quarter, the Magic moved the ball around to spread the Philly defense thin, and Terrence Ross ran out of the paint, he made a backwards pass to Mo Bamba who was already in position under the net and did a backwards dunk for a 49-42 lead over the 76ers.

The Magic were up against a team that brought speed and shots, and Orlando was still fouling a little too much.

Halftime found Philly leading 62-59.

At the half, Cole Anthony led the Magic in assists (5) and points (14) while Wendell Carter Jr. led the Magic in rebounds (8). Joel Embiid led Philly with 18 points and was six of 11 on field goals and six of eight in free throws.

To their credit, the Magic lingered around the rim more in this game compared to previous matches, with 29 rebounds compared to Philly’s 19 at the half.


Second Half

Early in the third quarter, Cole Anthony made a clutch three pointer, then fell to the floor, rolling in pain and frustration. The Magic took a timeout to address his situation. It was his second tumble of the night, having fallen in the first quarter as well. The cheered as he finally stood to his feet with the help of the medical team.

Philly play of the third quarter: Joel Embiid took the ball to the rim from the baseline and circled his long arms around two players to keep the ball and make the shot in to bring Philly to 66 points against Orlando’s 73.

The final minutes of the third became a three-point battle between Philly’s Furkan Korkmaz and Orlando’s Terrence Ross. Whatever lead the Magic would gain, Philly quickly closed the gap within one point.

The Magic led by one at the end of the third, 89-88.

The game became fast and furious in the fourth quarter. Philly upped their speed and forced Orlando to keep up, which threw off their shooting game a little. Mo Bamba had about three opportunities but missed all three shots. Philly’s speed ramp caused a few more fouls for Orlando too, and the combination caused Philly to get away with the lead. With less than six minutes left in the fourth, Philly led 105-96.

Wendell Carter, Jr. clocked his sixth foul of the game with 1:23 left in the game, and with 42.1 seconds left, Cole Anthony fouled as well, sealing Orlando’s fate of another loss. Philly finished with a 116-106 win.

For the Magic, Cole Anthony led in overall scoring with 26 points on the night. Mo Bamba followed with 19 points of his own. And despite Wendell Carter Jr.’s foul troubles, he had a double double on the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Magic’s next home game tips off Sunday, January 9 against the Washington Wizards at 6pm.


Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. |

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LeBron James Inks 2-Year, $97.1 Million Deal with Lakers



LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent announced Wednesday.

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul said the league-maximum deal makes James the highest-paid player in NBA history. His new deal includes a player option that would keep the second-leading scorer in NBA history with the Lakers past his 40th birthday in December 2024.

The 37-year-old James is headed into the final year of his most recent contract with the Lakers, who signed the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and four-time league champion in July 2018. The new deal means the 18-time All-Star will make $46.7 million this season.

Barring injury, James is likely to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring king this winter. James and the Lakers also still hope to be in contention for another title if James and Anthony Davis can return at full health after an injury-plagued 2021-22 ended without a playoff appearance.

James’ new deal syncs with Davis’ most recent contract extension with the Lakers, allowing both to leave the Lakers or to negotiate new deals in 2024. Both superstars are represented by Klutch.

James’ recommitment to the Lakers also silences persistent talk of his possible departure as a free agent or in a trade. James hasn’t appeared to be going anywhere on social media or in his public appearances, and he praised the hiring of new Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

James has missed significant portions of the season due to injury in three of his four years with the Lakers. He was largely healthy in the elongated 2019-20 season when the Lakers won the franchise’s 17th NBA title in the Florida bubble, and he has been every bit the dominant player of his prime when at full strength in the ensuing two years.

Although his contract status inspired plenty of offseason chatter, James seemed unlikely to relocate after spending the past four seasons of his 19-year career with the storied Lakers. His family is settled in Los Angeles, where his eldest son, Bronny, is a 17-year-old senior and college basketball prospect playing at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth.

James has occasionally said he intends to play on the same team with Bronny when his son reaches the NBA. Although plenty of obstacles remain between the younger James and the NBA, he could be draft-eligible in the summer of 2024.

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Orlando Magic Select Caleb Houstan in the Second Round (32nd Overall) of 2022 NBA Draft



Michigan basketball wing Caleb Houstan was a five-star recruit in the class of 2021. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Caleb Houstan in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Houstan (6’8”, 205, 1/9/03) played and started in all 34 games last season as a freshman at the University of Michigan, averaging 10.1 ppg., 4.0 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 32.1 minpg., while shooting .355 (60-169) from three-point range. He led the Wolverines in three-point field goals made. Houstan scored in double figures 17 times and had 20+ points twice. He had ten games with 3+ three-pointers made and four games with 4+ three-pointers. Houstan was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the period ending Jan. 24 and helped Michigan reach the Sweet Sixteen during the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive time.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Houstan graduated from Montverde Academy in Montverde, FL. As a senior (2020-21), he was named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Houstan was also named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith Second Team All-American and to the Sports Illustrated All-American Third Team.

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Orlando Magic Select Paolo Banchero with the First Overall Pick of 2022 NBA Draft



The Orlando Magic have selected Paolo Banchero in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Photo via NBC Chicago.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Paolo Banchero (pronounced pow-loh ban-CARE-oh) in the first round (first overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Banchero (6’10”, 250, 11/12/02) played and started in all 39 games last season as a freshman at Duke University, averaging 17.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg., 3.2 apg. and 1.05 stlpg. in 33.0 minpg., while shooting .478 (245-513) from the floor. He led all true freshmen in the nation in scoring. Banchero led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, while ranking second in minutes played. He also ranked fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and sixth in the conference in scoring.

Banchero was named Second Team All-America by the NABC and USBWA, while being a Third Team All-America selection by The Associated Press and The Sporting News. Among his many accolades, he was one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding player, and one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Banchero was named to the All-ACC First Team, the ACC All-Freshmen Team and was the ACC Freshman of the Year. He was also named to the ACC All-Tournament Team, the NCAA All-Tournament Team and the NCAA West Region’s Most Outstanding Player, leading Duke to the 2022 NCAA Final Four.

While at O’Dea High School in Seattle, WA, Banchero led the team to the Class 3A state championship as a sophomore (2018-19) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. As a junior (2019-20), he was named Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year, a MaxPreps Junior All-American and the MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year. Despite his senior season being postponed due to the pandemic, Banchero was named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith First Team All-American and a Sports Illustrated All-American.

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