It was fitting that the Indiana Pacers would need to win an ugly, offensively challenged game in Frank Vogel's return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse as head coach of the Orlando Magic. Neither team could hit a shot early, with the Magic leading 19-16 after the first quarter, but the second unit gave the Pacers some life in the second, but still needed to come up with stops to hold onto the lead at the break.
In the second quarter, the Pacers found some breathing room on the scoreboard, using a 10-2 run to push a two point lead to 10, setting the stage for what would wind up a lopsided victory for the Pacers, holding the Magic to 12 fourth quarter points. Orlando finished the game shooting just 32.1%, scoring 69 points, 32 in the second half.
Similar to Indiana's blowout home win against the Bulls, there's not much doubt the Pacers benefited from playing a team on the second night of a back-to-back. Orlando's shots were labored early, and despite stretches, they were clearly not in a position to make the Pacers pay for whatever defensive lapses they may have as a team. Indiana scored a season low 88 points, but 88 points was more than enough in this game.
That was a blessing because whether a byproduct of a Frank Vogel defense, the Pacers' offense was not worth writing home about tonight. They shot under 40% themselves (38.9%), namely due to an atrocious night around the rim, shooting just 50% in the paint. To somewhat make up for it, they did make Orlando pay for turnovers, outscoring the Magic 20-6 while only committing nine themselves.
The Pacers didn't have a breakout game in the traditional sense; only Monta Ellis (13 points) and Thaddeus Young (11 points) even shot above 50%, but the most important player for Indiana may have been Kevin Seraphin, who brought some much needed "scrap" to the Pacers' play. Seraphin had six points, but also had 10 rebounds, five coming on the offensive glass when Indiana as a team only had seven.
Extra bits of hustle has been a problem for Indiana in recent outings and while they lost the rebounding battle again tonight, they fought much harder in large part to Seraphin. Seraphin also had three assists, finding C.J. Miles for one of his four three pointers. Miles returned to the bench, leading the Pacers with 16 points, continuing his positive play with half of Indiana's three pointers on the night.
Despite the lackluster offense overall, Indiana still assisted on 22 of their 35 field goals, led by Jeff Teague and Paul George with five each. Teague had 11 points and eight rebounds while George had 13. Myles Turner was once again set back by early foul troubles in the first quarter, but did well the rest of the game to pick up only one additional foul.
At 5-6, the Pacers aren't where they'd hoped they'd be given the favorable schedule to the point and will have to make up ground on bad losses by finding wins, the first of those coming Wednesday when they host the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland is in a real early season groove at 8-1, but if there is a silver lining, the Cavs will be on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, a situation that has favored Indiana early in the season.