USA TODAY Sports
The Pacers ran away in the fourth quarter to beat Orlando.
Another 20-point victory isn't a bad way to cap off a four game in five night stretch for the Indiana Pacers, nor is them getting another 20-point victory period. After their struggles last week, the Pacers came to work against Cleveland last night and tonight against the Orlando Magic, getting back on track to get wins they have no business not getting, creating time for Miles Plumlee and Ben Hansbrough and getting a quick pair of wins.
Much like last night, a quick start by the Magic got them into the lead before the Pacers would go on a 12-0 run to end the first quarter, never looking back, keeping the game in double figures for most of the way. The Pacers held Orlando to 29 first half points, and at 32% for the game. While some of that was the Magic missing shots, the Indiana defense was closer to what they've been all year as opposed to their recent efforts in allowing 90+ points for five straight games.
It was another night where the bench and Tyler Hansbrough helped pave the way towards the victory. Hansbrough had 14 points and 14 rebounds in his second straight double double in the starting role. The Pacers have seen a huge burst the past two nights from Hansbrough, who had nine offensive rebounds, and assuming David West will return Friday, it's time for him to move that production to the bench. While he was just 4-14 from the floor, there's little to complain about when he's following up his own miss with the rebound and converting the bucket in some fashion.
Gerald Green had another impressive night off the bench, scoring 15 and grabbing eight boards. With an arsenal of automatic turnaround jumpers and three pointers that are actually going in, the future seems somewhat bright for Green, who can be a big push for a bench in desperate need of some kind of scoring threat. Coupled with Orlando Johnson, who only had four, but can provide a scoring touch of his own, any doubts lingering with Danny Granger's knee could theoretically be put to rest with these two.
Unfortunately, the story has been too clear for 66 games on the bench to really feel confident, but 35 bench points, 49 points total from second unit guys is still a huge boost. Add in lethal jumpers from Ian Mahinmi and Jeff Pendergraph, and the past two nights have been enjoyable if only to see glimpses of the bench. Now, let's see them do it starting Friday against Milwaukee.
For the starters, Paul George led the way with 18 points on a 7-14 night, limiting his astronomical turnover numbers to two tonight. George Hill had 14 and seven rebounds in a +21 rebounding effort, but when your opponent misses 60 shots, it creates plenty of rebounding opportunities, and Indiana took advantage despite 10 Magic offensive boards. Indiana not only limited Orlando to 73 points, but only allowed two players to reach 10 points, three fast break points, and 30 points in the paint, though Indiana didn't do much better in the latter two categories.
The Pacers do return to work Friday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks. Indiana has lost three straight games against winning teams, making Milwaukee a key game for the Pacers in moving forward from last week's stretch of poor play. They also move their magic number to one in clinching a playoff berth, something they could very well have clinched before they tip off play with Philadelphia on the road against the Clippers and Nuggets the next two nights.