It wasn't pretty, but the Indiana Pacers fought their way back into the win column with a victory over the Orlando Magic. The Pacers held an 11-point lead with about three minutes remaining, but quickly watched it dissipate behind back-to-back Orlando threes, with Victor Oladipo adding two more at the line to pull the Magic to within three. Monta Ellis drove to the basket, drawing a foul, getting Indiana to the free throw line to help ice the victory.
Ellis had 19 on the night, including the final six free throws to help Indiana seal the win. At the line, the Pacers were impressive to close the game, hitting their final 12 of the game, including all 11 in the final 4:01 of the fourth. Ellis had seven assists and four steals on the night in a game the Pacers flippant turnover issues were cleaned up in the second half. Orlando had 15 early points off turnovers, but finished with just two more the remainder of the night.
Indiana trailed at halftime, but jumped ahead with eight straight early in the third, getting a lead they'd keep for good, but not without having to earn it. Any time the Pacers threatened to blow the game open, the Magic stormed back to make it a one-possession game. But timely shots from Indiana allowed them to hold serve, back-to-back three pointers from George Hill midway through the fourth being the easiest to point to.
Hill returned after missing action on Monday by scoring 16 and shooting 3-3 from three point range. Paul George led the Pacers with 20, struggling with turnovers early, but ultimately fighting his way to the line for an impressive 9-9 free throw night. Ian Mahinmi neared a double double with eight points and 12 rebounds with he, Lavoy Allen (six points, five rebounds), and Jordan Hill pulling in eight of Indiana's nine offensive boards.
While the starters played well, Orlando's biggest success early came from their bench unit. But the Pacers bench did manage to keep the Magic reserves from proving the difference in the game in the second half. J. Hill, Myles Turner, and Rodney Stuckey each had six points and a block apiece, with Glenn Robinson III scoring five in his reserve minutes. C.J. Miles had a less-than-glamorous return, scoring three on a woeful 1-10 night shooting, though he did record a pair of steals.
A win tonight gives Indiana a nice boost in the standings. A loss would've dropped them out of the playoffs, but their win pulls them back to within a game of Miami for third in the East. Such is life in the congested Eastern Conference, but more importantly, grabbing a road win will hopefully set Indiana up well when they next travel to New Orleans to face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Friday night.