The Indiana Pacers escaped with a road win over the Orlando Magic, making it back-to-back wins within five points. Where Friday's win over Oklahoma City came on shot making, the Pacers came up with defensive stops tonight, nursing a four point lead in the game's final four minutes by forcing the Magic into 2-9 shooting down the stretch, including what appeared to be Indiana getting away with a late no-call that would've resulted in three Victor Oladipo free throws.
But given Indiana's own misfortunes with missed calls late in games, there can't be much disappointment in getting one of those back, even if Indiana would've had another chance with under three seconds to come away with a win despite the free throws. The shot-making of the Pacers late came down to Myles Turner, who hit two huge jumpers in the final minutes, scoring Indiana's final six points, half of his 12 point total for the night on 5-9 shooting.
Indiana was led by Monta Ellis once again, with him scoring 10 of his team high 21 in the fourth. Ellis continued his hot shooting, going 5-7 from three point range on a night only three Pacers hit threes, but made up for nine total. Paul George had 20 points, including a pair of threes, but was just 7-19 from the floor, though did dish out six assists. Ian Mahinmi had another double figure night with 14 points on 6-6 shooting with nine rebounds.
The bench finally got a boost with the return of C.J. Miles, who had 14 points in 13 minutes, hitting 6-8 of hit shots, including a pair of threes. Unfortunately, his second three resulted in a calf strain, which is the last thing the second unit of the Pacers needs, especially with a back-to-back looming. Jordan Hill did have a nice bounceback game, however with a 13 point, 10 rebound double double.
Indiana's defense, especially in the first half, allowed them to even be in position to come away with a win late. The Pacers had 17 first half turnovers, but the defense's ability to prevent Orlando from capitalizing on those opportunities helped Indiana tremendously to take a 47-47 tie into the break. Orlando had a big third quarter, but shot poorly outside of that, finishing at 41.8% for the night. Indiana on the other hand, shot 50%, down from a mid-50% effort most of the night. When they didn't turn it over, good things generally happened for the Pacers offense.
The win moved Indiana to 5th place in the Eastern Conference, keeping them one game off in the loss column from 3rd place Boston, expanding their playoff cushion to 3.5 games over Detroit, who lost tonight. The Pacers will be able to take another step forward in the standings if they can knock off the Miami Heat tomorrow night in Miami, but the struggles of the back-to-back Pacers could make that its own tall order.