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Magic 118, Pacers 98: Magic Prep For Playoffs By Pounding Pacers

Things don't always make sense with the Pacers.

For instance, with the Magic up 23 late in the third quarter, the Pacers defense forced a shot clock violation giving the Pacers the ball with 4.8 seconds left in the quarter...again, down 23.

Jim O'Brien summoned Josh McRoberts to rush off the bench and into the game. Why, I wondered?

Alley-oop play to Josh for a dunk at the buzzer? No, too obvious.

Get Hibbert out of the game to avoid another foul before heading into the fourth? But the Pacers had the ball.

Instead, McRoberts sets up to inbound the ball from the backcourt. All of that scrambling to get Josh in just to inbound the ball from three-quarter court? OK, a little excessive but credit to JOB for getting his coaching grind on...I guess.

McRoberts dialed up a fastball to Granger near the top of the arc. Granger is covered and can't shoot it, so he drives and then dishes for a corner Roy Hibbert. Naturally, Hibbert calmly drained the three-pointer much to the delight of a cheer-deprived crowd.

Just like no one in their right mind would draw it up. What a perfect way to wrap up the season at home. McRoberts is called in from the bullpen to trigger the team's play of the night that still leaves you scratching your head.

One thing that did make sense at the Fieldhouse tonight was the Orlando Magic. The visitors were motivated, smelling the playoffs and thoroughly enjoying life as a legitimate title contender. The Magic starters seized the lead early and made sure the game remained a high-level playoff prep while cruising to a 118-98 win.

More thoughts after the jump.

  • After about a month's worth of offensive fireworks, the Pacers struggled to get anything going against a stout Magic defense. The perimeter shots that had been falling of late drew iron and getting to the rim just wasn't an option. It was like the Magic had an invisible force field around the paint keeping the Pacers from even approaching an easy bucket at the rim.
  • The Pacers had no such force field. In the first quarter alone, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter put on a dunk show to rival any All-Star Saturday Night exhibition. The Pacers did make a run in the second quarter which gave faint hope that we may have a classic microcosm-of-the-season game. The horrible start and 24-point deficit was cut to nine just before the half. But the Magic closed like champs with five points in the final 30 seconds to take a 14-point lead to the locker room. The Pacers would never threaten the lead again.
  • Danny Granger led the clank brigade from the perimeter making just 6 of 19 shots including 1 of 8 from 3-land. He finished with more shot attempts than points (18) but even that doesn't describe the lack of rhythm Granger had tonight. He missed badly several times and that includes a few free throws. Matt Barnes made the open looks hard to come by, but there were enough to get something going, but not on this night.
  • Roy Hibbert also struggled to put the ball in the bucket, well, except from behind the arc. Big Roy was 4 of 13 and two of those makes were on corner threes.
  • Mike Dunleavy and A.J. Pricecame off the bench to provide what little offense the Pacers could muster. Dunleavy finished with 18 and Price tallied 19 along with five three-pointers. But to be fair, a lot of that offense came against the Magic's second unit. Still, this was the first time Price has led the team in scoring in his brief career.
  • JOB wasn't in a chatty mood after the game. "Orlando is a superior basketball team in every sense of the word. They'll be a touch out for anybody in the playoffs. They will possibly be there at the end again this year. We had a very poor performance against a very good basketball team." He was then asked a few softball questions about the Magic defense, but instead of expounding on the particulars he simply repeated, "They were superior."  Indeed.
  • The Pacers are off to Washington for the season finale on Wednesday. As you can imagine, ESPN decided there might be a game or ten on Wednesday they'd rather broadcast so the Pacers only game on slated for a national audience has been officially dropped.