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Pacers 115, Magic 109: Resilient Pacers Battle For 48 Minutes

The Pacers battled Dwight Howard and the Magic
for all 48 minutes.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Indiana Pacers employed a rope-a-dope strategy on the Orlando Magic by weathering three quarters of haymakers and then taking over the game in the fourth quarter when the Magic ran out of juice. The Magic were left stunned in their own house as the Pacers secured the W, 115-109.

Huge win for the Pacers which allows them to enjoy three days off before their next game on Tuesday night at Cleveland. The Pacers were short-handed in the front court with David Harrison nursing a sore lower back. Not the ideal situation when Dwight Howard is bringing the goods for 37 minutes. On top of that, the Magic were raining in 3-balls during the first half, making seven before the break. It seemed like every bucket was either a three or a Dwight Howard rim shaker.

The Pacers had several opportunities to cash in an 'it's just not our night' chip, but Jim O'Brien has these guys refusing to ever give in. The Pacers seem to take pride in grinding through the ups and downs of a game to make sure they have a chance to win down the stretch. All five on the court keep pushing, not wanting to let down their teammates.

Once the Pacers moved into the lead in the fourth, Stacy Paetz relayed a story from the team's practice on Thursday prior to flying to Orlando. She said they were loose and having a lot of fun toward the end. There was plenty of hard work put in, but there was a feeling that they were ALL working hard and enjoying the work with each other. Everyone on the same page, determined to work the plan Jim O'Brien preaches. The way Stacy described it, you could tell there was a positive vibe in the building that she hasn't sensed before.

Shortly after Stacy's story, Jamaal Tinsley hit one of his patented jump bankers and the camera panned over to the Pacers' bench showing 12th man and fellow point guard, Andre Owens up waving his towel and yelling encouragement to Tins. Yep, a team playing as one is far more valuable than a collection of talented individuals.

What else:
  • The Magic missed eight straight 3-balls in the 4th quarter before Rashard Lewis finally hit one. Carlos Arroyo hit one after the game was decided, so the Magic finished the 4th 2-11 from 3-land.
  • The Magic misses helped fuel a 14-1 run by the Pacers, putting them up for good.
  • O'B went with some different lineup combos down the stretch. Marquis Daniels and Jamaal Tinsley were causing the Magic all kinds of problems early in the fourth quarter. When Danny Granger went to the scorers table I figured he'd replace Quis. But instead, Granger replaced Dunleavy, allowing Daniels to continue chasing Orlando's 3-ballers and doing his crafty work on the offensive end.
  • Can't heap enough praise on Jermaine O'Neal for his effort. David Harrison was not available to bang on Dwight Howard, so J.O. had to play 35 minutes and deal with the young beast. While he didn't have a great offensive night and Howard was his overwhelming self at times, J.O. went at him all night. With timely help when needed, the Pacers made Howard work hard at both ends.
  • Eight Pacers played and seven on them finished with double figures. A solid team effort leading to a win was a nice 51st birthday present for Larry Joe Legend. Naturally, no. 33, Danny Granger, led the Pacers in scoring with 27 points, including 6 of 7 from 3-land.
  • Troy Murphey played some huge minutes after logging his first DNP-CD in the Phoenix game. He took advantage of some mismatches on offense, and gave the Pacers their first lead in the 4th quarter on a long 3-ball. Nice to see Murph respond to a little adversity like a pro.
  • Jamaal Tinsley continued playing the best ball of his career. ANOTHER double-digit assist night to go along with 20 points. Ten of the 20 were put up in the fourth quarter. But the highlight of the game came early for Tinsley, as he was working his dribble toward the hoop, Hedo Turkoglu came over to offer help. Tins dribbled the ball between Hedo's legs, picked it up in stride on the other side and layed it in for a pretty deuce. Fabulous.
With three days off the Pacers can tend to any nagging injuries and rest up for a nice stretch in the schedule for the rest of December. It's hard not to peek ahead and try to count Ws, but that's still an uncomfortable exercise with the Pacers. Every game is a grind regardless of the opponent, so take 'em one at a time and appreciate every win fully.