Denton: Magic Look to Take Advantage of Tired Pacers

By John Denton
March 19, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS – When Orlando and Indiana first played this season on Jan. 16, the Pacers were on a back-to-back and playing their fourth game in five nights. As such, they were throttled 97-86 by the Magic. When the two teams met a second time on March 8, the well-rested Pacers took advantage of a Magic squad playing its fourth game in six night and hammered Orlando 115-86.

Fast forward to tonight and the 7 p.m. game against the Magic (18-49) and the Pacers (40-26). The Magic are in the midst of a four-game, seven-day road trip, while the Pacers will be once again playing a back-to-back and for the fourth time in five nights. The Magic have been in frigid Indianapolis since Sunday afternoon, while the Pacers didn’t get back into town until the early morning hours of Tuesday after winning in Cleveland on Monday night.

Without question, the Magic are hoping that Indiana’s fatigue plays a major role in tonight’s game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

``You just never know what happens in the course of games, but for us the goal is to go out there and play as hard as we can and if they are tired they might show it,’’ Magic forward Tobias Harris said. ``If that’s the case, we’ll have to jump on (the fatigue).’’

The Magic will be looking for any advantage that they can get against an Indiana team that ranks first in the league in field goal percentage allowed (41.8 percent) and is second in points allowed per game (90.0). The Pacers have given the Magic fits with the length of Paul George, George Hill and Lance Stephenson on the wings and the toughness inside of David West and Roy Hibbert. That group closed off the lane when Indy last played in Orlando, forcing the Magic to settle for long jump shots.

``They gave us troubles at our place last time and their physicality is the first thing we have to deal with,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``We have to be extremely aggressive to prepare for their physicality. Then it’s going down the line and containing the penetration of (Paul) George and George Hill and handling those bigs in the paint.’’

The Magic could potentially get a break if West – who did not play Monday night in Philadelphia because of lower back pain – is unable to go again tonight.

Vaughn said he almost certainly would bring up the whipping that the Pacers put on the Magic in Orlando in an attempt to motivate his squad. In the March meeting, the Pacers led by as much as 29 points, got 18 third-quarter points from George and playfully toyed with the Magic in a lopsided third quarter.

Then, there’s the bad blood between Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson and Indiana power forward Tyler Hansbrough. In the two games so far, Nicholson and Hansbrough have repeatedly gotten tangled up under the glass while fighting for rebounds. Their play has resulted in two double fouls and three technical fouls (two on Hansbrough, one on Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who came to Nicholson’s defense).

``I’m not a bulletin board kind of guy, but I’m quite sure there are a few games during the course of the year that stick out in everyone’s mind,’’ Vaughn said. ``Indiana pretty much came into our place and really put a stamp on the game early.’’

MORE STORIES: Hennigan Made Right Decision on Bynum | Nelson Appreciated by Fans

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.




Follow John Denton on Twitter here