Denton: Magic vs. Pacers Analysis (2/9/14)


The Pacers (39-11) beat the Magic 97-87 on Opening Night and 98-79 last week in snowy Indianapolis. But six days later, this game was dramatically different because of the way Orlando worked together in a one-sided fourth quarter. The Magic opened the final period by ripping off a 14-3 spurt and they led 88-81 with 5:24 to play when Harkless – who passed up a layup for the assist on Harris’ game-winning dunk on Friday – converted a difficult, left-handed runner off the glass.

``That whole second unit played great for us in the fourth quarter. They made a great run because they were getting stops and scoring and getting easy points,’’ said Vucevic, who carried the Magic for long stretches of the third quarter and finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds (eight offensive). ``We got a solid lead and they came back at us. But we kept making plays. It was a great team effort.’’

Oladipo made eight of 18 shots and had four assists, four rebounds and two steals to go with his 23 points. And Harris – the hero of Friday night – scored 13 points, none bigger than his three-point play with 6 minutes left.

George, an all-star, had 27 points and seven rebounds. The Pacers were beaten on the glass 48-41 by the Magic.

Indiana entered the game first in the NBA in points allowed per game (90.7) and field goal percentage allowed (41.4) and it started flexing its defensive muscle late in the first half. Unable to get inside or free for jumpers, Orlando missed its final eight shots of the second quarter and trailed 52-43 at the break.

But Orlando was again able to rally in the fourth period, riding a young and energetic second unit that is oozing confidence and growing nightly. The combination of daily improvement and surging confidence has the Magic wondering where this run will end up.

``We play hard. It might sound simple and it might sound kind of plain, but that’s really what it is,’’ Oladipo said. ``We just played harder today. We just played hard throughout the whole game, especially in the fourth quarter. … We just fed off the crowd. The past two games the crowd has been unbelievable. If they continue to keep coming out like this, who know what we can do in this building.’’


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