By John Denton
January 16, 2013
Nelson and Redick each had six assists, while E’Twaun Moore and Afflalo both added five more assists. Orlando had 29 assists on its 40 field goals. That most certainly made Vaughn smile because of his insistence that the Magic share the ball and play as a team.
``That (unselfishness) is an unbelievable part of team basketball,’’ Vaughn said. ``We talked about being unselfish on both ends of the floor and a lot of shots probably could’ve been good shots, but turned into great shots. That’s a sign of us playing with each other and a comfort level that will continue to grow.’’
The game was the first regular-season meeting between the Magic and Pacers since the two franchises competed in the first round of the playoffs last spring. Orlando shockingly won Game 1 in the series, but lost the next four to the heavily favored Pacers. Much has changed since then for the Magic with a new GM (Rob Hennigan), new coach (Vaughn) and a host of new players following the Dwight Howard trade in August.
The Magic will practice on Thursday before hosting the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night at the Amway Center. Orlando defeated the Bobcats 107-98 in Charlotte on Dec. 15. The Magic’s three-game home stand wraps up Sunday when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
Impressive on the inside early in the game, the Magic cranked it up from the perimeter in the third period and early in the fourth to break the game wide open. Orlando made four of five 3-point tries in the third quarter. And when Nelson drilled a three with 8:10 to play – as Indiana coach Frank Vogel was imploring his team to get three consecutive stops – the Magic had incredibly made 12 of 19 shots from beyond the 3-point line. That put Orlando up 87-68 and prompted the Pacers to pull all of their starters out of the game.
``Typically (the Pacers) defend a little better and that’s their bread and butter, and that’s where we had the advantage. We shot it well, our offense was pretty crisp and moved the ball well,’’ said Redick, who made five of eight shots and four of six 3-point shots.
Orlando delivered one of its finest performances of the season in the first half to jump on the Pacers, 51-35. Vucevic (10 points and 10 rebounds) and Davis (nine points) did the damage on the inside, while Redick (nine points, three 3-pointers and three assists) and Moore (seven points and three assists) did a little bit of everything from the perimeter.
Orlando hit six 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes, allowing it outscore the Pacers 18-3 from the arc early on.
``(Indiana) had been playing really, really well and I didn’t even notice when we separated from them,’’ Afflalo said. ``But we shared the ball and made a lot of threes. It seemed like most of our shots were going down.’’
Davis was back in the starting lineup and made four of his eight shots in the first half. He played well on Monday in his first game back after missing three-plus weeks with a sprained left shoulder.
The Magic got off to a flat start, promoting Vaughn to call a timeout just 3 minutes into the game. Orlando eventually fell into a seven-point hole before kicking into gear. With Davis carving up the Pacers on the inside, the Magic closed the first quarter with a 14-2 spurt that put them up 22-17.
By the time their run was complete, Orlando had used a 32-8 spurt to go from trailing 15-8 to up 40-23 in the first half.
``I played 25 minutes? It felt like 50 minutes,’’ Davis said with a laugh. ``I’ve got to come here (on Thursday) and get my wind up a little bit. In the second half I felt the rust. I got out of the excitement mode and had more of the rust, so I have to get back to work.’’
Late in his postgame session with reporters, Davis said he still believes strongly that the Magic have the pieces to make a run at the playoffs. He pointed out that Orlando’s 12-13 start to the season before his injury and big wins of late against the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana should be proof that the Magic could be a contender for a playoff spot late in the season.
``I think that we can compete with the best,’’ Davis said with conviction. ``When we’re full throttle we can be that team that makes a playoff run and makes the playoffs. I really feel passionate about that.’’
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