Magic 135, Pacers 111: Small Mauled

You win some, you lose some and some you lose by a bunch. Tuesday night the Indiana Pacers found themselves down by a bunch early and went on to lose to the Orlando Magic, 135-111.

This game didn't set up well for the Pacers before they entered the arena and then Jim O'Brien took a chance and it made things worse.

After losing two games in a row, the Magic gave the Pacers their full attention and appeared intent on improving their level of play. With no match for Dwight Howard and all the Magic shooters, JOB started a real small lineup instead of trying to matchup position by position.

This meant T.J. Ford joined Jarrett Jack in the backcourt with Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger and Troy Murphy rounding out the front court. In theory, the Pacers could crank up the pace, free up perimeter shots for Murph and hopefully lure the Magic into the fast pace therefore limiting the impact of their monster in the middle.

It didn't work.

The Pacers turned the ball over four times early in the first quarter and the open shot weren't falling. Meanwhile, the Magic slowed down long enough to feed Howard and allow him to destroy anything in his way around the hoop.

The Pacers tried to adjust and did cut an early Magic lead down to one point midway through the first quarter, but Orlando went on to close the first quarter with an 18-2 run.

Gone was the improved defense and minimal turnovers which has triggered the Pacers' better play of late. The Magic were able to maintain a double-digit lead the rest of the way by doing about anything they wanted on the offensive end, which included draining 15 of 33 three-point attempts.

The Pacers have to let this one go and get ready for Milwaukee on Wednesday night. This loss wasn't unexpected, although no one expects to be so thoroughly destroyed at both ends of the floor. Hopefully this is game is circle-filed and doesn't linger past the flight home.

A few more thoughts:

  • Despite the ineffectiveness of the small lineup, I don't mind the attempt by Jim O'Brien to try to create a mismatch for his team. There have been times this year when I wished he'd do the same going the other way and play a big lineup against a small athletic team, instead of trying to matchup equally. It would've taken a special effort to beat the Magic tonight regardless of the strategy employed.
  • Danny Granger struggled all night and didn't lead the Pacers in scoring for once. Granger finished with 10 points on 4-14 shooting and didn't get to the line once. Credit the Magic for giving Danny plenty of attention and forcing him into taking contested shots.
  • T.J. Ford had a good scoring night finishing with 23 points, but the combo of Ford and Jarrett Jack was anything but stellar. The two-headed PG combined for six assists and seven turnovers.
  • Troy Murphy shaved his mustache. Why? Don't mess with a winning streak. It's no coincidence that Murph missed his first 3-ball of the night.
  • Mike Dunleavy continued his recent struggles. It seems like when his shot isn't falling the rest of his game tends to go with it. He was 2-12 tonight and continued his recent trend of empty drives in the lane. There's no doubt his knee is still bugging him but he's going to need to adjust his game to compensate for the knee.
  • The Magic were sensational, by the way. Mickael Pietrus came off the bench and showed he was healthy and ready to go, finishing with 27 points and 10 rebounds. The Magic had eight players finish with double-figures.
  • Courtney Lee flashed his quick-strike defensive ability on a couple of occasions and showed a real mature and aggressive game.
  • At least Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert were able to play some tonight. Hibbert played 15 minutes and ended up with 12 points two blocks and only three fouls. Rush made the one shot he took, a nice little runner in the lane.
  • After a great night on the glass against Charlotte including 19 offensive rebounds, the Pacers only grabbed 25 rebounds (ORL 40) and four at the offensive end.
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