They needed the entirety of 53 minutes, but the Indiana Pacers managed to get back into the win column against the Orlando Magic following a game-winning three from Malcolm Brogdon. The 120-118 victory wasn’t locked in until Evan Fournier missed his own three-point attempt at the buzzer, completing a wild back and forth that the Pacers barely got away with.
Though nearly every play had its own impact late in the game, it didn’t appear it would be all that competitive early. The Pacers were on the wrong side of the first haymaker when Aaron Gordon drilled three straight threes to start the game for Orlando. As a team, Orlando would hit two more, starting 5-6 from deep and going ahead 17-9 right out of the gate.
The Pacers would have a response however, led by Doug McDermott. McDermott hit a pair of his own threes as part of a 13-0 run that put Indiana ahead, pushing that lead up to double figures late in the first quarter. Even after four late points from Orlando, Edmond Sumner closed the quarter with a layup to beat the buzzer.
The Magic opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to three, eventually overtaking the Pacers halfway through the quarter on a four point play from Fournier. Myles Turner, returning to action for the first time in eight days, hit a three with McDermott flipping the score in Indiana’s favor with his third of the night.
Neither team was able to build any sort of advantage late in the half, both teams trading five point runs finished by Brogdon to close the quarter, putting Indiana ahead 62-60.
End of quarter buckets in the first and second quarter worked in Indiana’s favor tonight, giving them a much needed 5-0 advantage though that two point lead would come and go throughout the second half. Turner, along with Jeremy Lamb, proved to be huge boosts to Indiana’s offense in the third quarter, but the Magic had an answer for every shot, eventually topping the Pacers in the quarter on a Dwayne Bacon three to end it.
That three put the Magic ahead 90-88 heading into the fourth, but the officials removed an earlier three in the quarter after Gary Clark stepped out of bounds, giving the Pacers the quarter loss, but the one point lead. Aaron Holiday hit a jumper with 7:22 remaining to put Indiana ahead by five, notable because it was their final two possession lead of the game.
Nikola Vucevic erased that advantage on two shots, putting the Magic on top with a pair of threes. The Pacers would twice edge the lead back up to three, but miss four shots in an attempt to get it to five or beyond. As a result, none other than notorious Pacers killer Terrence Ross, opened up with five straight points, hitting a three and then cutting along the baseline for an easy layup with 57 seconds left.
Indiana’s offense had completely stagnated following their once majestic five-point lead, leading to a Brogdon miss that gave Orlando the ball. The Pacers forced a miss, but failed to pull in the rebound, giving the Magic a clean 14 with 26 seconds left. Turner picked up a tough foul on Fournier with 17 seconds that again reset the clock, giving the Magic all but three seconds to put the game away.
Justin Holiday, hampered with foul trouble throughout the night, challenged the inbounds against Fournier however, forcing a big turnover at the half court. Domantas Sabonis wasted no time working to the game on the inbounds, attacking Vucevic for an easy two to tie the game with 10.7 on the clock.
Orlando used their final timeout, opting to go the length of the court in the 10 seconds rather than advance the ball. Indiana did a good job challenging the inbounds again (all without T.J. McConnell, wow), forcing the Magic into a tough possession with the clock winding down. Gordon lost the ball, sending the game to overtime knotted up at 108.
Fournier was the go-to for Orlando in the extra period, scoring seven to put them ahead 115-110 with 3:43 in the game. Sabonis scored, then found Brogdon in the corner for three. Lamb broke the tie with a layup, making it a 117-115 game with just over two minutes remaining.
That score wouldn’t last long, however, as the officials conversed yet again, and for the second time in the game, overturned a corner three after they determined Brogdon had stepped out of bounds. Instead of a two point lead, the Pacers were again fighting from behind, down one. Vucevic broke a stalemate, getting a layup to push the Orlando lead back to three with 54 seconds left.
Sabonis again responded, getting to the line where he split the trip. The Pacers failed to respond on the inbounds, setting Ross free for what looked like an easy layup. Fortunately for the Pacers, Brogdon was able to get back quick enough to wrap Ross up without giving up the basket or an and-one.
Surprisingly, given the long, long history of Ross torturing the Pacers franchise, he also split the trip at the line, keeping it a one possession lead with the clock slowly ticking down. Sabonis responded at the rim, scoring with 35 seconds and the Indiana defense held, forcing a Fournier miss with 20 seconds left.
The Pacers passed on calling a timeout on their final play, getting it to Brogdon to set up the possession. Brogdon would say afterwards the play was set up for McDermott, but it very nearly didn’t get to that point when Brogdon’s pass to Sabonis nearly went out of his hands. Sabonis recovered, finding McDermott, who dribbled towards the key, kicking it out to Brogdon for what would be the game winner.
The triple put Indiana on top for good, wrapping up the win in a rather surprising way. Throughout the game, the Pacers were forced to contend with a hungry Orlando team that had their best shooting night of the season from deep. The Magic hit a season high 17 threes and also pulled in 13 offensive rebounds, giving them a big edge in second chance opportunities.
Fortunately for the Pacers, they managed to do just enough to come away with the win, holding a huge advantage in the paint (58-42) and points off turnovers (25-9). It also didn’t hurt that they were able to outscore the Magic 16-14 at the free throw line despite having six fewer attempts for the game.
Individually, Brogdon had 23 points to lead the way, but it was the play of Turner in his return that really boosted the Pacers to the victory. Turner had 22 and nine his return, looking incredibly comfortable on offense, scoring 10 in the third. He hit three threes and had three blocks.
Lamb was also invaluable off the bench, scoring a season high 22 in his second game back in action. After a bit of a rocky start, Lamb settled in, shooting 7-14 and scoring with ease. Sixteen of those points came after halftime, including two early in overtime when he fought down low against numerous Magic players to get a pair of putback attempts, eventually getting fouled and scoring two at the line.
Sabonis finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, falling one assist shy of a triple double (it was on Brogdon’s erased three that also erased Sabonis’s 10th assist). Like Lamb, Sabonis found himself more comfortable as the game went on, scoring seven in the final five minutes and 10 seconds.
Sabonis’s play late was much needed especially as Turner began to experience cramps and was unable to go in the second half of the overtime. He still fought through it, returning to the game for the final defensive possession, one that Sabonis closed out by contesting Fournier’s three.
The NBA standings are a volatile landscape, this win alone moving them up two spots to second in the East and first in the Central Division, tied with Milwaukee at 9-6, just one game ahead of the seventh place Nets and three games clear of 12th place. The team in 12th place will be Indiana’s next opponent, the Toronto Raptors (or is it Tangerine Raptors?) on Sunday afternoon.
The Raptors have struggled in the early season, starting 2-8 thanks to a rash of on-court misfortunes, but have bounced back lately, going 5-1 in the last six, setting up a far more difficult set of home games. It will be the first NBA matchup between Nate Bjorkgren and Nick Nurse, setting up an interesting matchup between two teams playing a very similar style of basketball.