Defensive Struggles Abundant in Pacers 112-96 Loss to Magic

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

D.J. Augustin's defensive struggles have been a well noted piece of Indiana's 2012-13 preseason to date, with very little credit being given the young guard as he continues to let opposing points find their way around him.

But for Augustin's struggles, he was only one part of Indiana's defensive problems tonight in a that-was-ugly-even-for-preseason kind of loss to the Magic in Orlando. The Pacers shortened their bench tonight, focusing on a nine-man rotation still short Danny Granger and George Hill, while also resting Ian Mahinmi, and the unfortunate thing is that it was a glimpse into what the team might in fact be without Granger and Hill for an extended period of time.

Of course, overreacting to a preseason game is dangerous, but this was just plain bad to listen to. It might have been a little tougher to watch the Pacers tonight. It would lead away many unhappy fans, all trying to convince themselves that it is just preseason. That's not to say tonight wasn't a sort of an anomaly. Indiana had played exceptionally well in their last two games, so what's a bad one? A complete lack of focus from the blue and gold tonight was one of the headlines, and it poured over into a game the Magic more or less controlled wire to wire.

Tyler Hansbrough played a solid game for the Pacers, scoring a game high 23 on 6-11 shooting, being the only consistent Pacer at the free throw line tonight, going 11-13. The same Pacers team that lived at the line against Atlanta was searching for it blind tonight, and no one was a bigger case of that than Paul George, who on 21 field goal attempts had just one trip to the free throw line, which was used to cap a three point play. George's preseason shooting hasn't been great, but he took to a whole new level tonight, playing just bad all around basketball. His night started out bad, getting rim stuffed during a cutesy highlight jam went awry. He finished the night with 13 points, but needed all 21 of those shots to get there, making just six, while missing all 8 of his three point attempts.

Lance Stephenson played the bulk of his game at the point guard position, resulting in more turnovers than assists, zero points, and general lack of cohesion. Mark Boyle seemed less than impressed with Stephenson's decision making on passes, which isn't a great sign for someone who has shown abilities as a playmaker. Along with George, Stephenson seems to be preoccupied with the highlight instead of the fundamental, which hurt both tonight. David West, Roy Hibbert, and Gerald Green each reached double figures, being the team's go to during their respective stretches, Green highlighting the Pacers' lone stretch of on board success during a 14-4 run early in the second quarter. The short bench resulted in limited (if any) game action from Orlando Johnson and Ben Hansbrough. Johnson reached the floor into the fourth, posting a pair of free throws in his nine minutes of action.

Tonight's game is better left forgotten with a number of bad efforts in an all around team collapse. The good news? It is the preseason. The bad news? You can't help but expect a little bit more from your team than this, even in the preseason. Maybe the team can forth a better effort tomorrow night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in their first televised game on Fox Sports Indiana. A few more eyes will get a glimpse of this team tomorrow, depending on what rotation decisions Frank Vogel jots up on the team's back-to-back, to almost expect something of a better showing.

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