Well, at least they didn't give up?
The Indiana Pacers withstood a few huge runs thrown their way by the Orlando Magic eventually knocking a 23-point deficit down to seven with ample time left in the fourth quarter before reverting back to their MO for losing, namely indecisive play, turnovers and defensive lapses.
The Magic waved their wand and pushed the lead back to 15 quicker than you can say abracadabra, controlling the game from there to secure a 111-96 win.
But make no mistake, Orlando earned this victory by overwhelming the Pacers with the force a natural disaster. Actually, it seemed like the Pacers made it through three nasty acts of nature before eventually coming up short.
Early in the game, the Pacers had to withstand some severe Dwight-ning strikes as Dwight Howard started the game hopped up on life and ready to attack. Twice Howard went right at Roy Hibbert intent on dragging Hibbert through the rim if need be. He appeared to do just that on his first touch, which ended with a vicious dunk. Hibbert suddenly appeared to be 6'2" instead of 7'2".
After a couple of impressive blocks and more rim rattling, it appeared Howard may be headed for a 30 and 20 game. That is, if the basket supports could withstand the abuse all game.
But the Pacers took that hard hit and after falling behind, battled back to tie the score towards the end of the first quarter. That's when the second disaster kicked in.
Gilbert Arenas found room to drain a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first quarter. This triggered a hail storm of 3-pointers by the Magic that carried over to the second quarter with the visitors knocked down 7 more triples, snapping the nets so much, you almost had to laugh. Five different Magic players drained a three, led by Ryan Anderson who made three from behind the arc.
The Pacers stayed in touch, though after absorbing the 3-ball storm and went to the half down 14. That deficit held until a summer-style drought appeared to parch any hopes the Pacers had to beat Orlando. The Pacers went scoreless for a 4:30 stretch in the third quarter as the Magic pushed that 14-point lead to 23. Darren Collison eventually ended the dry spell and with some help from Danny Granger and the bench helped trigger the run that would put the Pacers back in the game.
But alas, the Pacers could never get over the hump nor over the fact that the Magic made a lot of shots, including 16 of 34 from 3-land.
After the jump, a few more thoughts and observations on the loss.
- Seriously, the Magic were lethal from distance tonight. Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu combined to make 8 of 9 3-pointers which is simply crazy. There was a stretch in the fourth quarter as the Pacers made their run, Orlando bounced a few long balls and appeared to be aware that maybe the percentages would catch up with them. In fact, Ryan Anderson passed up an open look which he would've knocked down in the second quarter. But Hedo and J-Rich were there to offer the veteran presence and triggered the blink-of-an-eye 8-0 run that put the Magic back in control of the game.
- Darren Collison played a real solid game at the point, using his speed to get to the hoop and finish with 21 points and 4 assists with only 2 turnovers. He did struggle down the stretch, though with a bad turnover and some poor decisions with the ball in the lane.
- Danny Granger scored his 27 points and also played well early in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers climb back into the game. He did start the game in sloppy fashion, trying to force to many shots and turning the ball over senselessly. There was also an alarming play in the third quarter as the Magic were pounding the Pacers. Granger jogged back on defense, even though he was the first man back while Jason Richardson ran the wing for Orlando. Paul George had to sprint past Granger to take a foul on Richardson and prevent the easy bucket.
- Paul George played pretty well, but more importantly he played and played a lot. George logged over 32 minutes and finished with 10 points, 2 assists and 7 rebounds. His game wasn't flawless, but he really looks comfortable out there, especially shooting the ball from 18-20 feet. Even though the long two is frowned upon, I'd rather have him knocking down 2's than missing 3's and if those 2's give him comfort to get going in a game, then keep shooting 'em PG.
- Roy Hibbert will have a restless sleep tonight with the way Dwight Howard went at him. The big fella ended up only playing 14 minutes as the Pacers found some success with a smaller lineup. Plus, Jeff Foster had plenty of bounce in his game playing better at both ends.
- The Pacers face the New Jersey Nets at the Fieldhouse on Friday trying to snap what is now a six-game losing streak. Yeah, they better show for that one, no?