The Indiana Pacers fell to the Orlando Magic in their 5th preseason game, which on its own wouldn't be much to note, except that the Pacers lost while relying heavily on their starting five. Indiana had their full starting lineup for the first time this preseason, but still struggled down the stretch to slow down the Magic.
Defense continues to be a problem for the Pacers, allowing Orlando to shoot 50.6% on the night, doing almost nothing to deter the Orlando second unit from scoring at will. The Magic bench shot 57% and outscored the Pacers bench 56-28, led by Al Jefferson (nine points) and Rodney Stuckey (eight points).
All five Indiana starters finished in double figures, a balanced attack led by Myles Turner with 17 points and six rebounds. The combination of he and Thaddeus Young was big in helping trim a halftime deficit into a third quarter lead, with Young scoring 15 and pulling in eight rebounds of his own.
But while Indiana starters outscored Orlando's, the Pacers still had a difficult time limiting the effectiveness of Serge Ibaka in particular, who led Orlando with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Aaron Gordon made Paul George work on defense, and George himself was a little off his game in his return from a two game absence, scoring 16, but doing on 5-13 shooting.
George led the Pacers along with Young with four steals apiece as Frank Vogel ball was alive in well as the Magic turned it over 25 times. George did at least represent the Pacers at the free throw line, going 4-4 on a night the Pacers as a team were a woeful 17-25. Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis attack the basket at will, but were just 5-8 when they managed to work their way to the line in their double figure nights.
As the preseason nears its conclusion, it's clear the Pacers still have a lot to work on to push themselves into a position where they can be seen as a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. The uptempo style is refreshing and exciting, but the challenge is for Indiana to not make it a wash with their defensive struggles. Indiana will have one more warm-up game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday as the regular season opener is just 12 nights away.