Denton: Magic vs. Pacers Analysis (2/3/14)

   

Down nine at the half, Orlando frustrated the Pacers by holding them without a field goal for the first six minutes of the second half. Orlando got within a basket of the Indy before Stephenson flipped in a lucky, no-look basket as he was grabbed by Oladipo.

``We wanted to play faster and when we had good looks they came in transition with our early attack,’’ said Vaughn, whose Magic made just six of 10 free throws in the game. ``We didn’t want to settle with our jumpers and get to the rim. Overall our looks were good. But we didn’t get to the free throw line enough and we’ll address that and be better the next game.’’

Afflalo was at his efficient best in the first half, carving up Indy’s elite defense, but he cooled off in the third period. When he made just one of six tries and was whistled for a technical foul in the closing seconds following a controversial charge, it allowed the Pacers to take a 75-63 lead into the fourth quarter.

``Obviously they we locked in a little more, but I still had some makeable shots – an open three and some shots around the rim – where I just need to take my time on and convert,’’ Afflalo said. ``On a couple of pull-ups I felt their presence a little bit, but they were still makeable shots.’’

Orlando had little trouble executing offensively in the first half against the NBA’s best defense, largely because of the torrid play from Afflalo. The Magic got within 59-50 at the half when Afflalo drilled a long 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second remaining.

Indiana came into the game first in the NBA in points allowed (90.6 ppg.) and field goal percentage allowed (41.3 percent), yet the Magic shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half and drilled six of nine 3-pointers. The Magic wisely pushed the pace so that they could attack before Indiana’s defense got set up in the halfcourt.

Orlando’s biggest issues early on were on the defensive as six Pacers scored at least eight points in the first half. Indiana jumped up by as much as 16 points midway through the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Danny Granger before the Magic came charging back.

Continuing his strong play since he was left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team last week, Afflalo carved up George in the first half. He stayed on the move, weaving through screens to get open and made seven of 11 shots and four of six shots for 18 first-half points. Afflalo made four of his first six shots and the last three of the half to quiet the Bankers Life crowd.

Orlando caught a bad break late in the first period when George put up a 30-foot heave just before the buzzer and his momentum carried him into Magic forward Maurice Harkless, who hit George on the arm. His three free throws with six-tenths of a second gave the Pacers a 29-22 lead. It was George, who hit a running 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter to swing the momentum when the two teams faced off in October.

While Oladipo was proud of his 11 assists – six in the first half and five in the second – he was frustrated over the shots he missed. He was recently in a good flow shooting the ball from the wing spot, but things have changed for him as the Magic’s point guard. He planned on studying the last two games to find ways to correct his wayward shot.

``I missed a lot of shots that I can make, ones I really believe I can make,’’ he said. ``I did a great job balancing (with the passing). The (Sunday game in Boston) I didn’t do too good of a job of keeping my teammates involved and staying aggressive. I was better on that tonight. It’s just something I need to keep working on and start hitting my shots.’’

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