Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings: Game Preview

Orlando Magic at Sacramento Kings: Game Preview

The old adage that “defense travels” rang true for the Orlando Magic in their opening contest of a five-game, 10-day West Coast road trip.

Orlando rolled into the Bay Area and throttled the Warriors in one of its slowest wins over Golden State in franchise history.

The Magic (15-25) will look to mount a similar defensive effort on Monday when they go head-to-head with the Sacramento Kings (20-18) at 10:00 PM ET.

“I really liked our defensive effort to start the drive,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “I liked the way we hit shots, our low man was always available to come in, we protected each other and communicated. I thought that was the one part of growing up that was really good to see for our guys.”

Now, Orlando turns its attention to Sacramento. And if Monday night’s game with Sacramento is anything like the first meeting between the two teams this season, it’s sure to be must-see, late-night TV.

In that Nov. 5 game, Magic rookie Paolo Banchero scored a career-high 33 points, but Kings guard De’Aaron Fox drilled a halfcourt layup, tying the game in overtime to give Sacramento a 126. -123 win in Orlando.

Late-game heroics have been a staple of Fox’s 2022-23 campaign. The fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft is averaging 5.0 points per game in clutch situations, which ranks fifth in the NBA, and has the second-most points (99) in clutch situations. The University of Kentucky alum has been on a roll lately, averaging 28.1 points per contest in Sacramento’s last 10 games while shooting 53.1 percent from the floor.

Led by Fox, Sacramento’s offense as a whole has been roaring all season. The Kings are averaging 118.3 points per game, second most in the association. They have punished teams by getting out and running, playing at the league’s fourth-highest pace (102.1) and averaging the seventh-fastest points per game (15.4).

KEY STATS: After being named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December 2022, Banchero is already making a strong case that he should receive the award again for the first month of the New Year. The 6-foot-10, 255-pound forward is averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game through three games in January.

Banchero has scored at least 25 points in all three games this month and has reached that milestone eight times this season. To put how dominant he’s been in perspective, according to ESPN Stats & Info, all other rookies in the league have combined to reach that number just eight times.

QUOTE NOTE: “Every day we go in, we believe we can give ourselves a chance to win. We have to follow the game plan and believe in ourselves. But again, these wins are just helping us build more confidence, continue to do what we already knew we could do, (which) is win. Again, it’s just about building every day and doing everything we can to be the best that day.” – Magic point guard Markelle Fultz after Orlando’s win at Golden State

IN AND OUT: Bol Bol (health and safety protocols), RJ Hampton (G League – On duty), Kevon Harris (G League – Two way), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery) and Chuma Okeke (surgery on the left knee ) are out for Magic.

For Sacramento, only Keon Ellis (G League – Two-way) and Neemias Queta (G League – Two-way) will be unavailable against Orlando.

HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on the radio via FM 96.9 The Game.

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