The winning streak continues for the Indiana Pacers, as they topped the Orlando Magic in thrilling fashion to secure their fourth straight victory. The Pacers needed all 48 minutes to close out the Magic tonight, who were locked and loaded with a response throughout the game.
That ability to punch in a response helped them maintain the lead through a majority of the first three quarters. The Pacers, as per usual, stumbled out of the gate, falling behind 10-1 before getting a nice Tyrese Haliburton-fueled run to close the gap to two. Orlando’s response, an effortless 10 straight, would set the tone for the bulk of those first 36 minutes as Orlando extended their lead back out to around 10 points before Indiana would climb back to within a single possession.
Part of that was due to Indiana’s struggles against Orlando’s height, the dual center lineup of Mo Bamba and Bol Bol causing a lot of uncertainty offensively for the Pacers, not to mention Bol’s tremendous play on Orlando’s offensive side. Even still, Indiana were able to muster up enough to keep things from getting too out of hand, helped along by timely buzzer beaters from Bennedict Mathurin.
It seemed Orlando’s game often went as Bol went in the first half. His smooth play caused fits for Indiana’s defense, down to some well-timed, but inaccessible block attempts for Myles Turner as Bol drove at him. When Turner adjusted however, blocking one of Bol’s drives and putting up a strong contest on another, the Pacers suddenly found themselves back in business.
Even after cutting the lead to two, with under two minutes in the half, the Pacers were unable to get over the hump as Bol keyed off an 8-3 run that extended the lead back out to seven. Haliburton would give Indiana another buzzer-beater however, lining up a half court three to cut the lead to four at the break.
The start of the third, much like the first half, saw the Pacers make it a one-point game to start the half, glance at the scoreboard, and notice they’re suddenly down nine within a couple of minutes. Three point shooting, including a pair of makes from Buddy Hield, drew Indiana back into it, eventually tying the game up with five minutes remaining.
Not surprisingly, the Magic had a response when Jalen Suggs drilled a triple, but Haliburton was dealing, finding Aaron Nesmith for a response and Jalen Smith to give Indiana their first lead with 3:39 in the third. It began a 13-0 Pacers run that not only featured another Nesmith triple, but a sneaky Terry Taylor offensive rebound and layup and-one.
Terry Taylor plus the foul.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 20, 2022
and the bench loves it. pic.twitter.com/qv7BbzwzeG
It also featured a transition alley oop from Haliburton to Mathurin.
0 ↗️ 00— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 20, 2022
Tyrese Haliburton hits Bennedict Mathurin for the alley-oop. pic.twitter.com/x6PRnyewcM
Orlando would close the quarter strong, cutting the lead in half heading into the fourth. Franz Wagner cut it to three early in the fourth and despite a nice response from Oshae Brissett and Mathurin, the Magic would not be deterred, scoring 10 straight to retake the lead halfway through the fourth.
The game flipped back and forth before Wagner caught fire, scoring eight straight to make it a four point game with 1:43 remaining. Indiana had an instant response, with Nesmith trailing Haliburton for a three to make it a one point game. After exchanging stops with the clock dwindling, Indiana regained possession with 23.7 seconds left, setting up their final possession.
Haliburton looked to give the Pacers the lead on a deep step back three, missing the shot, but Nesmith fought under the basket for the rebound, coming up with it and getting fouled in the process. Nesmith calmly connected on both free throws to give Indiana the 114-113 lead. With 9.6 seconds on the clock, Indiana forced a Wagner miss and pulled in the rebound to hold on for the hard fought victory.
It was a game-saving effort by Nesmith tonight, scoring a career high 19 points on 5-8 shooting from three point range and 4-4 from the line. His three rebounds included one offensive board, the biggest of the night for Indiana. Nesmith has been boom or bust since his return from injury, scoring 29 points in 5 games, but only scoring in two of them. Finding some level of consistency would be huge for the Pacers, but his game tonight was exciting on every level.
Haliburton entered tonight a game time decision after last night’s ankle injury and he didn’t look like he had any lingering effects from the fall at all, scoring a team high 22 points with 14 assists, three blocks, and two steals on 9-16 shooting. Haliburton, like the rest of Indiana’s offense, had some issues adjusting to Orlando’s size, but a nice pair of buckets for Myles Turner after Bol made the switch on to either him or Hield helped the Pacers go up by four heading into the final stretch of the fourth.
Speaking of Turner, he returned to double double territory himself, scoring 20 points with 11 rebounds and a block. Though Bamba and Bol each scored over 20 themselves, there were still plenty of opportunities for Turner and Smith to respond. For Turner, he was steady and collected, shooting 8-13 from the floor and leading the way with four offensive boards. For Smith, it was a little more touch and go as his three point shot continues to be inconsistent, but he wound up with 14 points himself.
Hield’s shooting also bounced back tonight, hitting five triples as part of his 15 points. Off the bench, Mathurin scored 12, hitting a pair of threes and Brissett hit his own key triple as part of his five point, four rebound night. The stretch where he and Taylor played as the bigs included the 13-0 run that gave them their first lead, an excellent wrinkle late in the third.
The Pacers improve to 9-6 with tonight’s win and their fourth straight win is the first since February 2020. At 8-2 over their last 10, Indiana has been able to walk their way up the standings as well, moving into a tie for fourth with Cleveland. Extending that streak to five will be challenging, however, with this same Orlando Magic team returning to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Monday night, poised to avenge their loss tonight.