Denton's Dish: Magic at Pacers (2/4/12)
By John Denton
February 4, 2012
Make no mistake about it, this was a Super-sized victory for the Orlando Magic against the surging Indiana Pacers – even if it will go down as one of the quirkiest, most bizarre victories in franchise history.
The Magic had to overcome a wacky travel schedule, six technical fouls and a whopping 25 turnovers, but still found a way to gut out an 85-81 win against Indiana for Orlando’s third straight victory.
Playing in Indianapolis, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl, the Magic (15-9) got 27 points from superstar center Dwight Howard, 17 more from Jason Richardson and four clutch free throws down the stretch from Ryan Anderson to defeat the Pacers (16-7), which had won four games in a row. Indiana is 7-2 at home with both losses coming to the Magic in the past 10 days.
Because of the lack of lodging in Indy, Orlando had to travel through Cincinnati and fly on game day. The game had a distinct edge and nastiness to it, and the Magic were able to prevail with a tough, gritty effort.
``I can tell you that both teams were tired. This was our ninth game in 13 days and their ninth game in 14 days. So there was a lot of scraping, a lot of fouls and technicals,’’ said Richardson, who had his second strong night after coming back from a bone bruise in his left knee. Guys were just tired, especially with our travel coming in from Cincinnati. I’m just proud of my team for coming out and getting this win.’’
The Magic overcame their fatigue, frustration and turnovers by clamping down on the Pacers. Orlando’s defense held David West –- long a Magic killer – to just four points. Danny Granger made only four of 16 shots, while Paul George, who had 30 points a night earlier, made just four of his 12 tries.
``Both teams fought hard, but I was happy to come out with the win,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``What we’ve sort of been harping on is our need to play harder and compete harder and we tried to do that (Saturday night).
``I think we’re flying home direct and not stopping in Cincinnati, Green Bay, Tampa, Ybor City or anything else. That’s a good thing,’’ Van Gundy added in jest.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key moments from Saturday night’s Super Bowl prelude game in Indianapolis:
- MAGIC MOMENTS
- The numbers this season were much better for Richardson when he was playing rested as opposed to playing on a back-to-back with no rest. In games in which he’d had at least one day off, Richardson had been averaging 12.3 points while shooting 43.1 from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. In games with no rest, Richardson had been averaging 6.8 points while shooting 40.9 from the floor and 18.8 percent from 3-point range.
Richardson returned Friday after missing two games with a sore knee and poured in 19 points. And on Saturday, he made seven of 16 shots and three of seven 3-pointers. His biggest shot of the night came on a mid-range jump shot after the Pacers had closed to within 74-70 with 4:36 to play.
``I wasn’t healthy the last four or five games with that knee bruise, and I needed those two games off that Coach gave me to get healthy,’’ Richardson said. ``It’s feeling great and I’ve giving it my all.’’
- Howard had his finest offensive game in weeks, pounding the Pacers inside with a variety of hook shots and thunderous dunks.
He made 10 of 16 shots and for a third straight game he made at least half of his free throws (7 of 10).
``It was a really physical game. Both teams played hard end to end. It was a good battle with a good team,’’ Howard said. ``We’re not really inconsistent. Every team has their stretches, but we haven’t allowed it to affect us.’’
Howard’s only negative was a technical foul with 2:44 to play, one that allowed the Pacers to get within 76-73. Howard was mauled by Lou Admundson on a move to the basket and a foul was called, but Howard was upset that the official closest to the play (Kevin Fehr) never blew his whistle.
The technical foul was Howard’s seventh of the season, the second most in the NBA behind Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins. Von Wafter was whistled for a technical early in the fourth period for jostling with Tyler Hansbrough, while Hedo Turkoglu was hit with a T in the closing seconds for flinging the ball down the court after taking a shot to the head from Indiana’s West.
``We did some dumb things coming down the stretch and I didn’t talk to them about it after the game because it’s a good win, but we have to talk about it on Monday,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We did some things mentally that are unforgivable when you are fighting that hard to win a game. The technical fouls, especially Turk’s, were bad, but the competitiveness was there tonight.’’
- The Magic handled the ball as well as they have all season in Friday’s defeat of Cleveland in Orlando, turning the ball over a season-low five times. But on Saturday in Indy the turnover troubles reemerged against the defensive-minded Pacers.
In the first half alone, the Magic kicked the ball away 13 times – their goal for the game. The Magic got off to a good start with just three turnovers in the first quarter, but inexplicably they turned the ball over a whopping 10 times in the second quarter alone.
Making matters worse, Orlando turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
- The NBA is largely to blame for the Magic’s downright bizarre travel schedule Friday night and Saturday. Because the NBA never reserved a block of rooms in Indiana for the Saturday game the day before Indianapolis was slated to host the Super Bowl, the Magic didn’t have lodging in Indy.
They left Orlando following Friday’s defeat at 11:30 p.m., and flew to Cincinnati where they landed at 1:30 a.m. The Magic bussed to their hotel in Covington, Ky. and got to their hotel rooms after 2 a.m.
The Magic had a walkthrough in their hotel at noon on Saturday and departed the Cincinnati area at 2:30 p.m. The team touched down in Indy at 3:15 and used a police escort to maneuver through Super Bowl traffic to arrive at the arena by 4 p.m.
In the first draft of the NBA’s schedule, the Los Angeles Clippers were slated to play in Indy on Saturday. After the lockout, the schedule was altered and the Magic were scheduled to face the Pacers the night before the Super Bowl.
Shame on the NBA for scheduling a game in the Super Bowl city without securing lodging for the visiting team. The league always plays a game in the Super Bowl city the night the big game, so the rooms should have been secured at least a year in advance.
- There are so many quirks in the schedule this season because of the lockout, and this is another one of them: Saturday’s game was the Magic’s eighth back-to-back of the season, while the Pacers were playing just their fifth back-to-back set of games.
The Magic entered Saturday’s game 8-7 in back-to-back sets of games. They are 4-4 in the first night of those games and 4-3 in the second night.
Both Orlando and Indiana will play 19 back-to-backs by season’s end. The Magic have already played their back-to-back-to-back set of games in a three-day stretch, while the Pacers still have one ahead of them.
Indiana’s schedule is about to grow some teeth. Next week, the Pacers play four games in five nights – at home against Indiana, at Atlanta, at Memphis and back at home against Denver.
- The Magic got a nice lift in the first quarter from Quentin Richardson, who filled in for a temporarily injured Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu banged knees with Danny Granger when coming around a screen and hobbled off the floor.
Richardson made sure there was no drop-off, scoring eight straight points during one stretch to help the Magic spring to an early lead. Richardson made two long 3-pointers and a pull-up jumper during the hot shooting stretch.
``I’ve just got to be ready to go when something like (Turkoglu’s injury) happens,’’ Richardson said. ``I was fortunate to get a couple of open shots early and was able to knock them down. We had to grind in this game. We’re pros (in dealing with the quirky schedule) and we’re pros about it all.’’
Richardson was ejected with 1:17 to play in the third quarter when he jawed with Granger and shoved the Indiana small forward. Richardson felt that Granger hit him with an elbow earlier on the play and voiced his displeasure. Granger did the majority of the jawing, but Richardson responded with a shove that got him ejected.
Orlando’s Earl Clark and Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough and Granger were also issued technical fouls of the play.
- Here’s a sampling of some of the Magic players’ picks to win the Super Bowl: J.J. Redick and Ish Smith picked the New York Giants, while Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon and DeAndre Liggins picked the New England Patriots.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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