The Collapse of the Indiana Pacers continued in tremendous fashion tonight against the Orlando Magic, starting by falling behind 11-0 out of the gate, and ultimately seeing that start be the difference late as D.J. Augustin and Terrence Ross closed out a win for the Magic. The “here we go again” vibes were strong in this one thanks to that start, the Pacers missing their first five shots of the game.
Thaddeus Young brought the Pacers to life on his own in a response, scoring eight and assisting to Bojan Bogdanovic as part of a 13-2 run that tied the game halfway through the first. Indiana still failed to get over the hump, falling behind by seven late in the quarter and eventually stumbling into a double figure deficit, trailing 49-37 with 3:48 remaining in the first half.
Young again lifted the Pacers to close the half, scoring six as Indiana went into the half with a hint of momentum with help from Myles Turner in an 11-2 run. Turner stepped up in a big way in the third quarter, scoring 13 points in the quarter, helping push the Pacers into the lead for the first time in the game. While they were able to finally break through on the scoreboard in what amounted to a very good quarter, Indiana still struggled to put their foots on the neck of the Magic.
Up 57-53, Indiana came up with a stop, but Cory Joseph would miss a wide open, set three pointer. They failed to push the lead to seven on that three and not even 90 seconds later, the game was again tied. Indiana responded to this with an 8-0 run, but again, failed to keep building, turning it over after forcing one themselves. Orlando then scored seven straight, including another costly miss from three point range, this time from Aaron Holiday with Indiana up four.
The Pacers outscored Orlando 25-18 in the quarter, but it proved far more precarious an 18-point quarter than the Pacers would usually hope for. Where they had their opportunities to put the game into double figures, the failure to do so was met with a big time response from the Magic. Indiana was made to pay for it in the fourth quarter.
The Magic woke up offensively in the final period, scoring on their first seven possessions to take a four point lead, and were able to use that keep Indiana at bay even despite some mid-quarter heroics from Turner. Augustin, of all players, entered the game and scored five straight to extend the Magic lead to seven. Indiana scored five straight of their own, but failed to stop Ross, who had a season high 30 points on 11-18 shooting.
After a frustrating loose ball foul on Turner, Augustin was able to coax Darren Collison into the air on a three point shot, pushing the Magic up seven with 1:26 remaining. Bogdanovic scored with 54 seconds left to bring the game to within five. For whatever reason, Holiday opted to go for the intentional foul on Augustin despite still having the clock in their favor. That decision didn’t likely cost the Pacers a comeback win, but it did end it all that sooner.
The Pacers faltered defensively, allowing 38 fourth quarter points to the Magic. The Magic had closers, the Pacers did not. The Pacers were just 4-19 from three point range, missing four attempts in the last two minutes. Orlando meanwhile shot an efficient 11-23, five alone coming from Ross. They were outscored 15-11 in fast break points and were also outscored 15-14 in points off turnovers despite committing five fewer miscues.
Ultimately, the Pacers started slow and ended slow. Their failure to bookend the game sends them into their fourth straight loss, another infinitely frustrating defeat from a team that has clearly shown more than this in previous circumstances. They finally got some big nights, but the supporting cast failed to show up. Turner led the way with 27 points and seven rebounds, joining a 16-point, 10-rebound double double from Young that really helped breathe some life into Indiana’s floundering play.
Bogdanovic scored 21 with Collison pitching in 16 and 10 assists, but beyond that, there was little of note. Joseph joined the starting lineup, but had just four points on 2-7 shooting. He led the team with four steals, but Indiana only converted on one of them. No one in the second unit had a steal themselves, the second five totaling just 16 points, led by Doug McDermott with five.
Domantas Sabonis continued to look completely out of sorts in this one, scoring just four points with four rebounds. He shot 1-9 from the floor, seeing all that went right for him in the first half of the season go completely wrong. Holiday looked his most raw, going 0-4 with zero points and no assists.
Sumner meanwhile looked a bit more comfortable in his shooting, hitting a couple of midrange jumpers, but again struggled with fouls and was lit up by Ross when he slouched off of him at the three point arc. T.J. Leaf hit his first three of the year with his three points, and also had the only offensive rebound in the second unit. Indiana as a team had just six, scoring six off of those misses.
Indiana looked more like themselves tonight than they have at any point in these last four games, but their shortcomings were still a much larger presence as they contributed to a loss rather than being masked by a win. The loss also doubles their total number of losses against below .500 teams in just three matchups.
The Pacers may appear as themselves in stretches, but they’re clearly still searching for themselves, which could continue to be a problem. They still have two games on this road trip, both against below .500 opponents will continue on Saturday when the Pacers complete their Florida two-step with a game against the Miami Heat.