Tuesday, October 29th 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 97, Magic 87
Scott Agness | October 29, 2013
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson recently stood in front of the team and stated that he wanted them to start the season 10-0, to take it game-by-game but get off to a strong start in their quest for home court advantage. In front of a rambunctious sellout crowd (18,165) that was waving their gold rally towels in the air, the Pacers prevailed in their first test of the season.
Paul George, who finished with a game-high 24 points, sparked a 14-1 run which spanned the third and fourth quarters as the Pacers defeated the Orlando Magic 97-87 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
The Pacers, the defending Central Division champions, got off to an excellent start and scored the game’s first 12 points. But then, due to a combination of nerves and adrenaline, according to coach Frank Vogel, the Pacers made head-shaking mistakes. Vogel sent in the revamped bench unit midway through the quarter. At that time, Magic rookie and Indiana alum Victor Oladipo received a standing ovation as he checked into the game for the first time. Pacers big man Roy Hibbert was active under the goal and snatched down 12 rebounds in the first quarter alone, just five shy of his career high. After one quarter, the Pacers’ lead was five.
In their second stint together, the bench, accompanied by starter Lance Stephenson, put the team up by seven just a few minutes into the second period. But second-year forward Andrew Nicholson had it going for the Magic and propelled his team with a strong quarter. He made all five of his shots in the quarter and tallied 12 points. The Pacers gave the ball away eight times while the Magic handed it over just once and outscored the Pacers in the paint by two. At intermission, Indiana trailed Orlando 44-40.
Though the Pacers kept making runs, they couldn’t get separation from the Magic. In the third, they were efficient in their shooting, 73 percent, but gave the ball away six times and missed five shots at the foul line. George, who scored 11 points in the third, gave the Pacers some much-need momentum heading into the final quarter. As the buzzer sounded to end the third, he nailed a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key, giving the Pacers a 69-64 advantage.
Picking up where they left off, Indiana went on an 11-1 run and they went ahead by a dozen. Second-year guard Orlando Johnson played with great energy and gave the Pacers quality minutes. He scored six the in final quarter and helped expand their lead to as many as 19.
Pacers fans held their breath with 5:22 to play after Hibbert went down in pain and held his left knee. He went back to the locker room and he could’ve returned, but the game was already in hand. The Pacers started the season 1-0 with a 97-87 victory.
Inside the Numbers
Lance Stephenson stuffed that stat sheet. He had 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one block in just under 36 minutes. David West had 13 points, five rebounds and five blocks, which tied a career high. Luis Scola was 4-of-7 shooting off the bench for eight points.
Andrew Nicholson led the Magic with 18 points — all in the first half. Maurice Harkless scored 14. Rookie Victor Oladipo had 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in his NBA debut.
The Pacers outscored the Magic in all but the second quarter. They shot 48 percent from the field but were just 22-of-32 from the foul line.
Both teams were careless with the basketball. Although the Pacers committed two more turnovers (21 to 19), they scored 29 points off the Magic’s mistakes.
“Good win for us, hopefully a sign of what we can be. We didn’t really play a great basketball game but we were able to make enough plays to get out of here with a double-digit victory. I thought our defense in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter was really exceptional.” – Frank Vogel
“He’s fine. He landed awkwardly, twisted his knee a little bit. Wanted to get checked out and by the time he got checked out the game was in hand. He was available to return. He’ll play tomorrow.” – Vogel on Roy Hibbert
“Right now he’s our fifth big. We have a rotation setup where Luis [Scola] is our backup power forward, Ian [Mahinmi] is our backup center. Right now, that’s the best way to utilize our team and if we have injuries or situational needs where we want to spread teams out, he’s a heck of a weapon.” – Vogel as to why Chris Copeland didn’t play
“There was a couple games in the preseason where I had two or three rebounds. I said ‘That can’t happen.’ … I wanted to go out there and be aggressive and put my body on the line.” – Roy Hibbert
“We let down. We allowed them to creep back and fight back in. … We did a good job of giving ourselves a cushion to be able to withstand that.” – Paul George
“I think we did a good job of protecting the paint. A lot of young guys like to drive the ball and they’re very athletic so we knew they were coming to the paint. We were ready to step up and that’s what we do well.” – Ian Mahinmi on the team’s 18 blocks
“I thought the energy was good, I thought we started off the game well. We got a little laxed there. … For the most part, it’s a great way to start the year.” – David West
Stat of the Game
The Pacers blocked 18 shots, a new franchise home record and one shy of the overall franchise record, set at Washington on Nov. 30, 1979. Roy Hibbert was responsible for seven of them.
- The Pacers have won four consecutive home openers and their last three season openers.
- Danny Granger (left calf strain) was in street clothes because he’s out approximately three weeks.
- In the stands: Indiana University head coach Tom Crean. Purdue coach Matt Painter, Colts linebacker Robert Mathis and Washington Nationals pitcher (and Indiana native) Drew Storen.
- A 15-foot statue of Larry Bird that will go up on the campus of Indiana State University was on display for all in the entry pavilion.
The Pacers head to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at New Orleans Arena. It is the Pelicans' season opener. The game tips off at 8 PM EDT and will air on FOX Sports Indiana.