Game preview: Pacer at Magic

Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Amway Center

Pacemaker at Magic

game preview

Now that the seven-game sled is behind them, the Indiana Pacers have some positive momentum to build on when they compete at the Amway Center on Orlando Magic Wednesday.

Two of the top rookies from the 2022 NBA draft will go head-to-head as Magic’s Paolo Banchero is ready to play against the Pacers after missing the previous two meetings through injury.

Banchero, a 6-foot-10 forward from Duke University, leads all rookies in pointing averages at 20.7 points per game. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.0 steals in his debut pro season.

With the Pacers, rookie Bennedict Mathurin, No. 6 overall, was also outstanding. Mathurin, a 6-5 guard from Arizona University, leads all bench scorers in the NBA with 17.3 points per game while averaging 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He has scored at least 20 points 19 times this season.

While Banchero has a higher point average per game, Mathurin tops the column for total points (856-829) among rookies. Banchero has played 40 games against Mathurin’s 48 this season.

Both rookies are just 20 years old.

On Tuesday, the Pacers (24-25) overcame a 21-point deficit in a 116-110 win over the Chicago Bulls (22-24), ending a seven-game losing streak.

Mathurin scored 26 points for the Pacers in the win, including 15 points in the fourth quarter. Pacers center Myles Turner also had 26 points and seven rebounds, and point guard TJ McConnell — now in the starting XI since Tyrese Haliburton was sidelined with injury — finished with 20 points and 10 assists.

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After Banchero, second-year Germany player Franz Wagner is averaging 20.4 points per game, plus 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while center Wendell Carter Jr. averages 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds. All three players are listed at 6-foot-10.

The Magic celebrated one of their more surprising victories this season, a 113-98 victory over the East’s top-ranked team, the Boston Celtics (35-14). In that game, Banchero had 23 points and Carter had 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Indiana will again be without Haliburton Wednesday, who has been out since his January 11 injury with elbow and knee sprains. The Pacers have won just one game since Haliburton was injured.

McConnell has gained minutes in the last few games and has scored double-digit goals in seven of the last eight games. In his last 10 games, McConnell has averaged 11.5 points, 6.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

Indiana comes in ninth in the East, a half-game behind the Atlanta Hawks while the Magic are 13th.

Planned starters

Pacers: G – TJ McConnell, G – Andrew Nembhard, F – Buddy Hield, F – Aaron Nesmith, C – Myles Turner

Magic: G – Markelle Fultz, G – Gary Harris, F – Franz Wagner, F – Paulo Banchero, C – Wendell Carter Jr.

injury report

Pacers: Andrew Nembhard – questionable (no COVID illness), Tyrese Haliburton – out (left knee/elbow sprain), Daniel Theis – out (right knee surgery)

Magic: Caleb Houston – out (G League play), Chuma Okeke – out (left knee surgery)

last meeting

November 21, 2022: Indiana won a second game in three nights against Orlando, 123-102, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

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The Pacers were a point down after the first quarter but held the Magic to 17 points in the second to go 54-45 by the break.

After the break, the Pacers dropped 32 points before securing the win with 37 more points in the final frame.

Six Pacers scored in double digits, led by 22 by rookie Bennedict Mathurin. The Pacers dominated at point guard, with Tyrese Haliburton averaging 18 points and 14 assists while TJ McConnell amassed 19 points and 10 assists from the bench.

Franz Wagner led the box score for the Magic with 20 points and six rebounds, and Gary Harris contributed 18 points.

The Pacers were shooting 50 percent from the field but making only 13 of 46 3-point attempts while the Magic were shooting at 42.4 percent.

Despite a clear size advantage at almost every position, the Pacers passed the Magic 48-38 and outperformed the visitors in the Paint 58-42.


  • Gary Harris, a native of Fisher, attended Hamilton Southeastern High School and was the 2012 Indiana Mr. Basketball.
  • The Magic have lost nine of their last 11 encounters with the Pacers and 28 of their last 35 overall.
  • Indiana will return to Orlando on February 25 to complete a four-game season streak with the Magic.
broadcast information (TV and radio program >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/anchor)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (side reporter/host)


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