Recap: Magic 97, Pacers 86

January 16, 2013

After Orlando dealt away six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard in the offseason, it appeared, at least on the surface, that it would take the Magic quite some time to find a suitable replacement in the middle.

Instead, as league observers are quickly realizing, Orlando acquired a top-tier big man in the same trade that sent away its former face of the franchise.

Nikola Vucevic has been exceptional for the Magic. He’s notched eight straight double-doubles, 20 overall and is currently third in the league in rebounding.

“He’s having a great season,” Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel said. “Obviously having a five man that can space the floor like he does with his shooting is a big-time asset. Defensive rebounding, scoring in the post as well.”

Vogel got a good look at the damage Vucevic can do as the Magic’s 22-year-old center notched 16 points and 15 rebounds in Orlando’s 97-86 win over Indiana.

“He’s a good up and coming big,” Pacers forward Paul George explained. “He is big and can shoot the mid range. He is definitely a presence down low for them. He’s coming around. He’s a heck of a player.”

While his season averages of 11.6 points and 11.2 boards per game are impressive enough, what really pleases Orlando’s coaching staff is Vucevic’s work ethic, love for the game and willingness to defend a variety of players.

“Nik makes it easy for you to take it for granted in the sense that in the first quarter I basically played him 12 minutes straight,” Magic Head Coach Jacque Vaughn said. “That’s just the trust that I have in him and the fact that he could guard (Roy) Hibbert and when Hibbert leaves the floor I could stick him on David West. That’s unbelievable conditioning by himself, drive that he has, and tremendous amount of trust that I have in him.”

His outstanding totals and fine start to the season make him a near lock for All-Star Weekend's Rising Stars Challenge.

“It would be a huge honor for me,” he said. “All of the best players in the NBA play in the All-Star Game and are a part of All-Star Weekend and being in that Rookie-Sophomore Game would be huge for me. There are a lot of young, great players playing in that game. So I’d really like to make it.”

"I played 25 minutes? Felt like 50 minutes. I have to come in here tomorrow and get my wind up a little bit. Second half, the rust started to come, felt the rust. I got out of the excitement mode and more into the rust. Got to get back to work." - Glen Davis after his 11-point, four-rebound performance in his second game back from a shoulder injury.
This Statline of the Night goes to Arron Afflalo. After a rough outing against the Wizards on Monday night, the Magic's shooting guard bounced back with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal in Orlando's triumph over Indiana on Wednesday.
Photo courtesy of Fernando Medina. | Photo Gallery

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