The Indiana Pacers pick up their third straight win, topping the Orlando Magic behind a big third quarter performance. It was the third of three “take care of business” games and the Pacers, despite a lengthy injury list, have not only done that, but have brought some life to their performance over these past few days.
Unfortunately, the game took a serious turn early when Magic guard Devin Cannady fractured his right ankle challenging a take by Edmond Sumner. It was a heartbreaking injury for the Marian High School product, who had gotten the call up after being named G-League Finals MVP for the Lakeland Magic.
Cannady had just had a career night on Thursday, scoring 17 points in a game against New Orleans. Despite an immediate reaction following the injury, Cannady’s resolve was noteworthy, clapping and waving to the fans as he was carried off on a stretcher. So it should be no surprise that his first tweet would be that of a Mamba Mentality as he works towards what will hopefully be a quick and full recovery.
Moving past the injury wasn’t easy for either team, but the Pacers, led by Sumner, were able to push a six-point lead up to double figures. Sumner had 11 in the quarter, his quickness not only turning into fast break points, but in trips to the line, where he had five of his attempt attempts.
Indiana led 36-25 heading into the second and immediately plagued by turnovers and stagnant offense, allowed the Magic to climb back in the game on a 10-3 run. The Pacers responded, scoring 11 straight, only to turn around and allow Orlando 12 straight. The back-and-forth runs eventually tied the game at 57-57, when a steady 5-0 run to close the half put the Pacers back on top heading into the break.
Once in the third, the Pacers turned things up a notch, getting scoring from JaKarr Sampson and Caris LeVert to quickly go back up by 10. After the Magic cut it to eight, LeVert completed a three point play, kicking off a 26-12 run to close the quarter, putting Indiana in control after three.
The Pacers scored 41 in the quarter, piling on with four straight threes to end the quarter, one from Malcolm Brogdon and three assisted by Brogdon, made by Justin Holiday and Oshae Brissett (the latter of the buzzer beater variety!). Brogdon’s play to end the quarter was impressive, taking control after Indiana had gone two and a half minutes without a field goal, to score or assist on the final 14 of the quarter.
While the Magic did climb as close as 14 in the fourth, it was never really in doubt after that quarter, especially with T.J. McConnell taking over as the playmaker, dishing on four straight buckets himself, including a pair of threes and a nice last second find to Sumner.
Brogdon led the way for the Pacers with 24, nearing a triple double with nine assists and eight rebounds. He shot an efficient 10-17 from the floor, including three threes, coming up with a bucket at multiple stretches where the Indiana offense had begun to stagnate a bit. It was the first game since April 3 that all five starters reached double figures, in part due to Brogdon finding Sampson for six of his eight third quarter points.
It was also a breakout game from J. Holiday, scoring 20 points off the bench, hitting 6-8 from three (and a nice putback dunk late).
It’s been a lengthy struggle for Holiday, who has shot around 27% from three over the past month. The return to the bench appeared to do him some good, as too did the play of Doug McDermott, scoring 16 on 7-10 shooting (with a pair of threes) to open things up. McDermott was fantastic around the rim, completing follow-ups of his own in impressive fashion.
Sumner had his second straight 20-point game, scoring 21, including 11 in the first quarter. His play has continued to be a huge boost to the Pacers, his ability to get in transition either resulting in a basket or a trip to the line, where he was 7-8 on the night. He and Oshae Brissett led the team in attempts, shooting 13 of Indiana’s 18 free throws. The well-rounded play allowed LeVert to play in control, scoring 18 points on 7-14 shooting while also dishing six assists.
For the game, the Pacers shot 54.9% and 15-32 from three point range. The transition game helped make things that much easier, outscoring the Magic 27-9 in fast break points despite losing the turnover battle (13-7) and allowing 15 offensive rebounds as Sampson and Brissett fought with early foul trouble. The foul trouble led to the NBA debut of Amida Brimah, who had a block in five minutes of action.
The play of the Pacers these last three games has been a lot of fun, but the opposition no doubt plays a role in that. They’ll be tasked with bringing that same kind of energy to better opposition these next two games at home, starting with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.