By John Denton
March 19, 2013
Vaughn was ejected when the Magic were trailing 58-44 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. O’Quinn and Hibbert got tangled up under the boards on a free throw attempt, and Vaughn felt like Hibbert alone should have gotten a technical foul because he initiated the scrum. O’Quinn had inside position and had Hibbert coming over him on the play.
``We had gotten tangled up and I didn’t want to throw my arms, but I had to protect myself and protect him at the same time,’’ O’Quinn said. ``I guess the ref didn’t see it that way and he called a tech. And Coach Vaughn saw what I was trying to do and that fired him up. … It’s very rare (to see Vaughn’s temper). (The media) sees what we do, and it doesn’t come out too often. It just lets you know how much he loves the game and how bad he wants us to do well.’’
Orlando shot a season-low 32.2 percent and made just three of 15 3-pointers against an Indiana team that came into the game ranked first in the NBA in opponents’ field goal percentage and second opponents’ field goal percentage.
Orlando’s starting five of Maurice Harkless (4 of 12, 10 points), Harris (3 of 13, 6 points), Nikola Vucevic (4 of 12, 9 points), Arron Afflalo (3 of 13, 10 points) and Jameer Nelson (2 of 13, 8 points) had little to nothing going offensively. They shot a combined 16 of 63 (25.7 percent). And the bench wasn’t much better, contributing just 30 points.
``(The Pacers) are a physical team 1-through-5, and that’s just the way that they play,’’ said O’Quinn, who had two points and five rebounds off the bench. ``They go for those physical plays and it’s tough to just work your way into that style. You have to step up to the plate when they come out. This was a tough game for us and we have to learn to come out physical also.’’
Vaughn’s frustration could have been a byproduct of Sunday’s 115-109 loss in Milwaukee – a game in which the Magic yielded 25 fourth-quarter points to shooting guard Monta Ellis. Tuesday’s defeat was Orlando’s fourth in a row since a home defeat of Philadelphia on March 10.
Vaughn said there was no tactic in mind to try and fire up his team with his first career ejection. He said he watched the rest of the game on television, while lead assistant James Borrego ran the team from the bench.
``There were a few more things before the double-tech with my guy having the inside position on the free throw lane,’’ Vaughn said. ``I watched it in the locker room. I don’t think I am the first coach to get kicked out of a game. It’s not a big deal.’’
Indiana (42-26) moved 1.5 games ahead of New York for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. All-star forward Paul George scored 19 points, while substitute starter Tyler Hansbrough chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds (nine on the offensive boards).
The road-weary Magic will close their four-game, seven-day trip in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks. New York, which is 3-0 this season against the Knicks, has been without starters Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler of late because of injuries. The Knicks won Tuesday in Utah and were off on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s victory allowed Indiana to win the season series between the two teams. The Magic whipped the Pacers 97-86 in January in a game where Indiana was playing its fourth game in five nights. The Pacers returned the favor earlier this month with a 115-86 pounding of Orlando.
Indiana made life miserable on the Magic in the first by closing off the lane and using its length to contest jump shots on the perimeter. Orlando trailed 42-29 at the half, and the 29 points just barely eclipsed an all-time low in franchise history. The Magic had one more basket than the Jan. 24, 2005 game at Houston when they scored 27 points in the first half.
Orlando shot a dismal 26.1 percent and made just two of 10 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes. Harris missed his first seven shots, Nelson and Afflalo both missed five of six tries and Vucevic misfired on five consecutive shots during one stretch.
An Indiana team still awaiting the return of Danny Granger – he’s expected to practice later this week – was also without starting power forward David West because of a strained back. But Hansbrough – an irritant all season for the Magic – hurt the Magic with his hustle, grabbing six offensive boards in the first half. He added nine points in the first 24 minutes.
``He has a lot of energy out there, he’s a physical player and he likes to do all of the physical things out there,’’ Harris said. ``He definitely did impact the game from their standpoint and got them to play more energetic. We have to find ways to overcome that sort of stuff.’’
The game started well enough for the Magic, who jumped to a 12-7 lead and they seemed to have the upper hand on the sluggish Pacers. But Indiana flexed its massive defensive muscles early on to force the Magic into 11 consecutive misses to end the first quarter. Orlando’s 12 first-quarter points tied their season low set in November in Minnesota.
``Early I thought we had some looks that just didn’t go in,’’ Vaughn said. Whether it was a putback, a dunk attempt, a transition play or an open three – they just didn’t go in. So that makes it tough when you are going back on the defensive end. You have to score against these guys so they have to come back against our set defense. You’ve just got to put the ball in the bucket.’’
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