Game Rewind: Pacers 97, Magic 84
Paul George got the Pacers off to a strong start, then came alive once again during the fourth-quarter rally that led to a 97-84 victory for Indiana (4-4) over the Orlando Magic (3-5).
Coming off back-to-back 30+ point performances over the weekend, the Pacers’ star forward scored 19 of Indiana’s first 23 points on Monday. He knocked down 6-of-9 shots overall in the first quarter and went a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range and 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Though George’s success had come primarily in bigger lineups over the past two games with starting small forward C.J. Miles out with a sore ankle, he looked just as comfortable on Monday starting the game as the power forward in a smaller look with Miles back on the floor.
“Once you get going, it doesn’t matter (if you have) one big out there, two bigs out there,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. “Then you’re in a rhythm and you can get going. You’re going to score that way whether you’ve got a big lineup out there or a small lineup. That’s exactly the way he started tonight with a small lineup.”
But it wasn’t until the second quarter that the Pacers surged in front. George Hill knocked down a couple corner threes, while Myles Turner and Rodney Stuckey provided a nice spark off the bench as the Pacers built a six-point lead. Orlando clawed back to within one, but the Blue & Gold nonetheless headed to the locker room in front at the half.
The lead changed hands several times over the next quarter and a half before Orlando strung together an 8-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to retake the lead. But George, who had been relatively quiet since his early exploits, burst to life in crunch time to lead the Pacers’ late charge to victory.
With six minutes to play in the fourth quarter, George had failed to make a field goal while amassing three points and five turnovers since the end of the first period. But that lull in his play didn’t seem to impact his confidence, as he buried a long 3-pointer with 5:52 to play to give Indiana an 83-81 lead.
On the next possession, George drove into the lane and found Chase Budinger wide open in the left corner for another triple. After Budinger came up with a steal on the other end of the court, George led the break and threw a darting, one-handed bounce pass to Hill, who finished with an athletic right-handed slam. The Pacers got another stop, George drew a foul and hit both free throws, and suddenly Indiana led by nine.
“We got some turnovers that gave us some energy,” George said. “We (were) able to come down, make some shots — I was able to make a three — (and) kind of separate us a little bit. I think we just coasted down the stretch.”
Ian Mahinmi’s hook shot 1:45 later capped a 12-0 run and the Pacers cruised to a comfortable victory.
George finished the night with a game-high 27 points on 7-of-17 shooting to go along with four rebounds and seven assists. Hill added 23 points and seven boards, going 8-for-13 from the field and 4-for-6 from 3-point range.
Turner was the only other Pacers player to score in double figures, as the rookie matched his career highs with 10 points (on 4-of-6 shooting) and four rebounds.
“I feel like I’m just picking new stuff up every game,” Turner said after the victory.
Evan Fournier led Orlando with 21 points. Victor Oladipo added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Channing Frye contributed 14 points and eight boards off the bench.
The Pacers now hit the road for their next contest on Wednesday night in Boston. Indiana defeated the Celtics at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last Wednesday, 100-98.
Inside the Numbers
Hill’s 23 points and seven rebounds were both season highs.
Indiana forced Orlando into 22 turnovers leading to 21 points on the other end. It was the third time in eight games this season that the Pacers forced 20 or more turnovers.
Orlando, meanwhile, forced 18 turnovers and was able to convert them into a highly-efficient 34 points on the other end.
The Pacers had a season-best 25 assists against the Magic. A player recorded an assist on all but nine of Indiana’s field goals on the evening.
The Blue & Gold outscored Orlando 36-32 in the paint, the first time this season that they’ve outscored their opponent on the interior.
You Can Quote Me On That
“We definitely locked down defensively, really helped one another, got some steals and that led to fast break points, open jump shots, things like that.” -Budinger on the Pacers’ strong finish
“He’s played superb all year, just a steady performer for us. 23 points with no turnovers is terrific.” -Vogel on Hill’s performance
“He’s great. He’s always ready to learn. He comes in and does his job. I’m very proud of the steps he’s taking. He’s going to be great for us.” -George on Turner
“We were really sloppy with the ball, even some plays we made. We were throwing the ball at each other’s knees, had trouble catching it, we weren’t sharp enough to win. We made it close and we possibly could have stolen it, but we just weren’t sharp enough.” -Magic head coach Scott Skiles
“They played better defense, you have to give credit to the Pacers. Paul George made some great plays. They had more energy at the end of the game than we did.” -Fournier
Stat of the Game
Monday’s victory was the Pacers’ 1,000th home win in their NBA history. Indiana is 1,000-580 at home in 40 years of NBA action, a .633 win percentage. The Pacers have recorded a winning record at home for 26 straight seasons, the longest active streak in the league.
- The Pacers have won five straight regular season games against the Magic and six straight against Orlando at The Fieldhouse.
- George made three 3-pointers on the night to move past Billy Keller for third place on the franchise’s career list for 3-point field goals made. George has now made 509 3-pointers in six years in the NBA, three more than Keller amassed in seven ABA seasons.
- Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey played 17:49 despite spraining his ankle in Friday’s win over Miami, finishing with six points and four assists. Stuckey did, however, reaggravate the injury in the second quarter and played just 2:54 after halftime.
@by Wheat Hotchkiss