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Magic 121, Pacers 115: Defense Optional

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With help looking on, a frustrated Foster felt the Howard flush.
2007 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Indiana Pacers played the Orlando Magic tough all night, but couldn't find the big buckets late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Magic to leave town with the 121-115 win. If the story sounds familiar, it is. In fact, just read last night's recap because it all applies for this game.

The Pacers went with a small lineup, leaving Jeff Foster alone on Dwight Howard. Before you knew it, Howard had 15 points and O'B had to change the game plan. Of course, paying more attention to Howard opened up a 3-ball fest for the Magic as they finished with 14 made threes. Ouch.

After the game, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy mentioned that he and O'B have a similar philosophy and both teams played pretty even, but the Magic have Dwight Howard and the Pacers don't. Yeah, we noticed, Stan.

As frustrating as it is to keep saying this after a loss, the Pacers played real well at times. They were up by nine at one point and finished the half up two. Danny Granger had 20 first half points, 14 in the first quarter, but didn't do much in the second half until the game was all but decided.

The Pacers just flat out could not defend the Magic. The inside-outside matchups were lethal. Take on away and the other will kill you. Often times, the Pacers best defense was a foul because the Magic struggled from the line, making just 29 of 42 freebies.

The bad news is, the Pacers just dropped their sixth in a row, falling ten games under .500. Oh, and Tim Duncan and the Spurs are up next on Tuesday at the Fieldhouse. The good news is, the Pacers continue to grind and work each night. If they could somehow transfer their first half production to the second half they might start winning some games. Right now, it just feels like the fourth quarter is a burden for these guys. Hard work always pays off, so somewhere down the line these guys will be rewarded for their effort, I just don't know if that payoff will come at anytime this year.