Franz Wagner posted 21 points – his 28th 20-plus-point performance this season – and Paolo Banchero scored 19, however the Orlando Magic were unable to slow down the Indiana Pacers in the second half of Saturday’s 121-108 loss at Amway Center.
The Pacers, who trailed by one at halftime, used a 17-2 third-quarter run to snatch momentum away from the Magic. Myles Turner scored six of his 24 points in that time. After Orlando cut the deficit to six early in the fourth, Indiana pulled away again with a 17-4 run.
The Magic struggled mightily from 3-point distance. They made just six of their 29 attempts (20.7 percent). They also accumulated only 16 assists, tied for their third fewest this season. The Pacers, meanwhile, dished out 34 assists, tied for the second most by an Orlando opponent this year.
Goga Bitadze made his Magic debut, ironically against his former team, and in just nine minutes had six points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-11, 250-pounder signed a contract with the Magic last week after being waived by the Pacers earlier this month.
Quote of the Day
“There’s always a sense of urgency when you have a chance to get a play-in spot or a playoff spot. We’ve talked about it as a team. It’s definitely in the back of our minds.” - Banchero on whether there is an added sense of urgency in these last 21 games
Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury management) was out for the Magic. Caleb Houstan and Kevon Harris were with Lakeland. Kendall Brown (lower leg) was unavailable for the Pacers.
This Day in History
On Feb. 25, 1994, four Magic starters scored over 20 points in an Orlando victory over the New Jersey Nets. Nick Anderson led the way with 28 points; Dennis Scott scored 23; and Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway each had 21. Kenny Anderson led the Nets with 33 points, while Derrick Coleman scored 23.
Where does Tyrese Haliburton deserve to be ranked among the league’s top point guards? Could a case be made for him to be in the top five? Is top 10 more reasonable? Might he be left off a top 10 list because of how many other great point guards there are around the league? Opinions seem to vary based on who you ask. Nonetheless, it's likely that he will finish third in the Most Improved Player Award race behind Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (it’s a toss-up right now who claims the honor between those two).
The Magic begin a three-game road trip on Monday in New Orleans where they will take on the Pelicans at 8 p.m. ET. Orlando won the first meeting on Jan. 20 at Amway Center behind 30 points from Franz Wagner and 22 from Cole Anthony. The Magic outscored the Pelicans by 16 in the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum led New Orleans with 23 points.