A strong second half performance helped propel the Indiana Pacers past the Orlando Magic, snapping their 11 game losing streak in the process. The Pacers outscored Orlando 70-56 after the break, going ahead for good on a 17-2 run to open the third and leading by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter.
Indiana struggled to capitalize against the Magic defense in the first half, shooting just 38%, but remained in the game by limiting Orlando’s offense to 39% shooting. As such, neither team was able to find much separation from the other, going back and forth throughout the half, Franz Wagner hitting two free throws at the end of the half to put the Magic ahead 52-51.
The Pacers shot 6-21 from three point range in the first half, but opened the second half with three as part of the 17-2 run. Though the Magic managed to calm things down a bit with a 7-0 run, Tyrese Haliburton’s passing was in prime form, keeping the game out of reach with a pair of dimes to Myles Turner.
the duo does it again!— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 26, 2023
another Tyrese Haliburton dime and Myles Turner dunk. pic.twitter.com/mT5r8Rj4dG
Plays like that would prove valuable down the stretch of the third to keep the Magic locked into a 5-7 point wall they just couldn’t overcome. Haliburton pushed the lead out to eight at the end of the quarter with a corner three, pulling in a Jordan Nwora pass gone long, spinning into the basket, then having a cordial chat with former teammate Goga Bitadze.
Haliburton spins back to the corner for a turnaround 3️⃣-pointer .— Bally Sports Indiana (@BallySportsIN) February 26, 2023
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Stream: https://t.co/1dLPctYYpW pic.twitter.com/agfm24GF1i
The second unit put things out of reach in the fourth, scoring nine straight to once again lead by double figures. Orlando made one last push midway through the fourth, outscoring the Pacers 8-1, but Haliburton found Turner and then Buddy Hield for five straight, sinking an early dagger.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 26, 2023
Buddy Hield drains the three. pic.twitter.com/yUGMfPK7C4
It proved a well-rounded effort for the Pacers, getting five double figure scorers, led by Turner with 24 points and eight rebounds. Turner shot 11-19 from the floor, but also succeeded in some gamesmanship with Wendell Carter Jr., quickly forcing him off the floor with foul trouble, which limited him to just 1-11 shooting on the night.
Five of Turner’s 11 shots came courtesy of Haliburton, who was flinging the ball all over the place tonight. He finished with 14 assists, bringing his post All-Star total to 28 in two games. He took full advantage of his playmaking ability tonight not only finding guys in good spots, but making sure each dish turned into a dime.
Tyrese Haliburton hit ‘em with the razzle-dazzle tonight.✨— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 26, 2023
14 AST pic.twitter.com/NLIZY69KTI
That limited his scoring to just 15 points, but he was successful at picking and choosing his points to attack, connecting on a pair of threes as Indiana took off in the second half, shooting 9-19 from three and 59% overall, totals that came in handy to overcome a 23-4 second half disadvantage at the free throw line.
The only non-and-one trip to the line in the second half came from Jordan Nwora, who had his best game as a Pacers with 18 points on 8-12 shooting. Nwora did a little bit of everything tonight, scoring at the basket, in the midrange while pulling in eight rebounds with five assists.
Jordan Nwora with his first double-digit performance as a Pacer.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 26, 2023
5 AST pic.twitter.com/vUK32Me980
It’s not been a particularly fluid start for Nwora and the Pacers, with the former Buck averaging just 4.3 points in his first three games, hitting a couple of threes, but not doing much else. It was a much different story tonight, however, helping Indiana to a 56-38 bench win.
Bennedict Mathurin led the second unit with 19 points, winding up the only bench player to knock in multiple threes. Mathurin looked energized going up against his fellow rookie of the year contender Paolo Banchero, scoring 11 in the second half.
and one‼️— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 26, 2023
Jalen Smith block leads to a tough Bennedict Mathurin bucket. pic.twitter.com/gyNrUmoq3k
Jalen Smith got the call as the backup big tonight and made the most of his minutes, scoring seven with seven rebounds and five blocks. Four of Smith’s rebounds came on the offensive end, and though they lost the offensive rebounding battle 15-10, they came out on top in second chance points, limiting Orlando to just nine while scoring 11.
Andrew Nembhard got the night started for the Pacers with a pair of threes, helping him to 13 points on the night, finding a third three along the way. It was the most he had scored since January 18, which is also the last time he’s made multiple threes, shooting just 18.6% from deep in that time frame.
The All-Star break may have done Nembhard well, but it certainly appears to have done the team well, coming out looking closer to their pre-Haliburton injury selves than who they were heading into All-Star Weekend. They’ll head West from here, facing the new look Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, the only winning opponent they’ll play in this four game road trip.