Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Pacers Game 3 (5/2/12)



By John Denton
May 2, 2012


ORLANDO – Undermanned and undersized without a healthy Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic knew full well that the margin for error against the favored Indiana Pacers would be a small one and they would need exceptional efforts from several players.

The Magic were able to defy the odds in Game 1 and stun the Pacers with a stellar closing rally. But now, with their defense springing more leaks than they have plugs and their offense again sputtering, a bit of harsh reality could be starting to catch up to the Magic.

A slow start to Wednesday night sapped the life out of the Amway Center and then the Pacers did the rest by gashing the Magic in a variety of ways in a lopsided 97-74 Indiana win in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.

``They’re doing what they need to do at the right time and they’re playing harder than us,’’ Magic forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis said of Indiana. ``Their energy level is consistent. One of our biggest problems is that in the first and the third quarters, we can’t keep playing from behind. We don’t have room for mistakes.’’

After winning consecutive games, Indiana leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Amway Center and it might be the Magic’s last chance to make a series of it again against a powerful and deep Indiana team.

Davis had 22 points, including an inspiring stretch of 16 points in the second quarter when the Magic got within two points of the lead at 38-36. But Orlando never led in the game and shockingly trailed by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter.

And when it was complete it was difficult to tell which was more of a problem area for the Magic. Offensively, they shot just 42.3 percent from the floor, failed to break 80 points for a second straight game and got little from starters Hedo Turkoglu (five points), Jason Richardson (five points) and Ryan Anderson (seven points). And defensively, Orlando couldn’t slow down an Indiana team that made nine of its first 10 shots, got 26 points from Danny Granger and owned a 46-33 advantage on the boards.

``It was both ends of the floor. We didn’t play well at either end of the court,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``It was a very tough day. They clearly dominated us, particularly at the start of the game and in the third quarter again. That’s three first quarters and three third quarters and it’s been the same story. We’re in holes at the beginning of every half. We can’t be playing out of a hole all of the time.’’

Anderson and Davis stressed after the game that the Magic still believe that they can win the series. But to have any shot of doing so that makes winning Saturday’s Game 4 an almost must-win for the Magic.

``We still have hope, we still believe and we’re still in the fight,’’ said Davis, who brought his one-year-old daughter, Amari, to the postgame news conference. ``It’s not like we’re down two games. We’re just down one and the next game is at home. They returned the favor. They beat us at home and we beat them at home.’’

Added Anderson: ``We have another game here. Obviously we wanted this one and wanted to play harder. But it’s a team thing and we have to look at ourselves individually and come out and play harder. Obviously we want to put this one behind us as quickly as we can.’’

Here is a look at the key moments from Wednesday’s Game 3 from the Amway Center:


    MAGICAL MOMENTS

  • Davis had his shot blocked twice and missed all three of his shots in the first quarter, but his confidence wasn’t shaken. Instead, he simply changed his game and resorted to drilling jump shots from the free throw line.

    Davis didn’t score in the first quarter, but he got rolling in the second period for 16 points by hitting seven of his next 10 shots. During one stretch of the second quarter, Davis scored 16 of the Magic’s 20 points. And after a play in which he rebounded his own miss, spun in the lane and flipped in a shot, Davis looked to the crowd and started jogging in place.

    ``I had open looks and I’ve got to hit those shots,’’ Davis said. ``I had a good rhythm going.’’

    Davis went down hard late in the half when he was hit in the side of the head by a Roy Hibbert elbow. Davis wanted to stay in the game, but the Magic substituted for him with 1:12 left in the second quarter.

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • The Magic once again started poorly in the first quarter and fell behind by at least 10 points for a third straight game. The Pacers were up 13-3 in the first few minutes and by the time that they pushed the lead to 21-10 they had made nine of 10 shots and all three tries from 3-point range.

    The Magic fell behind 17-7 early in Game 1 and 18-7 in the opening minutes of Game 2. Getting off to a better start on Wednesday was a point of emphasis, but the Magic once again found themselves having to play out of an early hole.

    In the first three minutes, Orlando missed its first six shots and turned the ball over once. They left them trailing 8-0 before Hedo Turkoglu broke the ice with a 3-pointer.

    ``We can’t keep playing out of the hole and we’ve got to get it figured out,’’ said Richardson, the star of Game 1 who had his second sluggish game with just two field goals. ``The starters have to come out and be more aggressive and get more rebounds.’’

  • Only four times during the regular season did Magic power forward Ryan Anderson fail to make at least one 3-pointer. But after Anderson made 11 of 20 threes against Indiana during the regular season and led the NBA in made 3-pointers with 166, Indiana has worked hard to take that shot away from him.

    With the Pacers closely guarding Anderson’s pick-and-pop plays, the power forward was mostly invisible early in the game. He attempted just two shots in the first half, missing both and failing to score.

    Anderson did make a 3-pointer in the third quarter – just his fifth one in three games. For the game, he made two of six shots and one of three 3-pointers.

    ``Sometimes we let it get to us too much if we’re not making shots,’’ Anderson said. ``We might not run down the court as hard to stop the transition layups. In the first game we limited those easy buckets for them. But these past couple of games we’ve really given them wide-open layups and too many fastbreak points.’’

  • Magic point guards Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon had a difficult time containing George Hill and Darren Collison in the first half.

    Hill made the Magic pay when Nelson left him to double-team inside on David West and Roy Hibbert, hitting five of seven shots. His runner in the lane with a tenth of a second remaining in the second quarter gave him 13 first-half points.

    Including Collison’s six points, Indiana’s point guards outscored Orlando’s duo 19-5 in the first 24 minutes.

    MAGIC MOVES

  • In the three third quarters so far in this series, the Pacers have outscored the Magic 81-43. In the three games, it’s gone 19-13, 30-13 and 32-17 in favor of Indiana.

    Those poor starts to the second half have left the Magic playing out of a hole in the fourth quarter in every game.

    ``Our starting lineup was really, really low energy,’’ Van Gundy said. `` I don’t know if we’re just tired because we’ve been on the road a lot. But we’re low energy, just walking up and down and being late on everything.’’

  • Indiana coach Frank Vogel admitted after the game that the Pacers are going to whichever player Anderson is guarding inside in an attempt to exploit a matchup.

    In Games 1 and 2, David West had his way inside against Anderson, and the Magic adjusted by switching Davis onto him. But the Pacers made the Magic pay for the switch with Roy Hibbert getting 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

    ``Roy was terrific. They’re obviously at a size disadvantage without Dwight and they are still very competitive,’’ Vogel said. ``They put Glen Davis on David to try and limit him. But it’s not like we have a defensive big man and an offensive big man; we have two horses. If they try to put Ryan Anderson on Roy we’ll go to Roy. If they put Glen Davis on Roy, we’ll attack the better matchup.’’

  • Rather than lighting into his team, Van Gundy attempted to brighten the mood of his squad following Wednesday’s lopsided loss.

    ``I said it to our guys after the game, `So we got it stuck to us, but they don’t get two wins for that,’’’ Van Gundy said. ``I’ve been through a lot of playoff series as an assistant and head coach and you have to realize that they don’t get two wins for blowing you out. It’s 2-1 and we’ve got to keep our heads straight and we can’t hang our heads. We have to keep our competitive spirit where it needs to be and come back.

    ``The only thing that matters is getting ourselves ready to play a great game on Saturday,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``It’s not about trying to find blame or point fingers. We were awful, all of us. OK, let’s get ready for Saturday.’’

    John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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