GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Magic 109

The Pacers hand the Magic a 121-109 loss behind Victor Oladipo's 26 points and six rebounds.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Magic 109

The Pacers hand the Magic a 121-109 loss behind Victor Oladipo's 26 points and six rebounds.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:09

Vic Gets The Bounce

November 27, 2017 - Everything was falling for Victor Oladipo on Monday night.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:30

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Nov. 27, 2017

November 27, 2017 - Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Damantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson speak about their big run to close out the game against Orlando at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:45

Lance Pushes It Upcourt

November 27, 2017 - Lance pushed the tempo in the second half against the Magic.
Nov 27, 2017  |  03:07

Highlights: Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo drops 26 points and six rebounds in the Pacers win over the Magic.
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:58

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Nov. 27, 2017

Nov. 27, 2017 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan addresses the media following Indiana's 121-109 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 27, 2017  |  05:13

Thad Forces the Turnover

November 27, 2017 - Thad Young got involved on defense and forced a Magic turnover.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:07

Turner Rejects Another One

November 27, 2017 - Myles Turner sent a Magic player's shot by the wayside.
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:46

Turner Protects the Rim

November 27, 2017: - Myles Turner lifted off and rejected a Magic shot.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:09

Turner Protects the Rim

November 27, 2017: - Myles Turner lifted off and rejected a Magic shot.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:09

Sabonis Scores Inside

November 27, 2017 - Sabonis used a smooth post move to get an early bucket against Orlando
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:57

Turner Spots Up for Three

November 27, 2017 - Myles Turner was feeling it early, canning a 3-point shot.
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:40

Turner Protects the Rim

November 27, 2017: - Myles Turner lifted off and rejected a Magic shot.
Nov 27, 2017  |  02:09

Sabonis Scores Inside

November 27, 2017 - Sabonis used a smooth post move to get an early bucket against Orlando
Nov 27, 2017  |  01:57

Pacers Get in Tune When it Counts Most

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Evan Fournier opened the fourth quarter with a layup, giving Orlando its first lead since the first quarter and extinguishing a Pacers lead that had reached 12 points with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third period.

It was the best thing that could have happened to the Pacers, given their struggle to function with comfortable leads and their knack for fourth-quarter comebacks. It was the signal to come together, to rev up the energy, to find a star or two to lead the way.

"This team, we're definitely versatile and we respond to adversity," said one of those stars, Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo returned from a one-game absence because of a bruised knee and delivered a nearly magical shooting performance, while Lance Stephenson continued his run of fanatical finishing touches with some magic of his own in the Pacers' 121-109 victory over the Magic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

They had plenty of help on this "by committee" team, but they propelled the closing sprint that left the Pacers with a 12-9 record that nobody from the outside world would have predicted a month ago. They make for a lethal one-two punch when they're at their best, a starting two-guard and his backup who can play together, too.

Oladipo made his first 11 field goal attempts before missing his last three to finish with 26 points, and added six rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and two steals.

Stephenson finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, leading the Pacers in rebounds for the third time in the last five games and leading the crowd into a frenzy with his game-breaking contributions. Given all that margin for error, you can pretty much ignore the fact they combined for eight of the Pacers' 16 turnovers.

Both shrugged off their performances afterward.

Oladipo was on course to set a Pacers' NBA franchise record for shooting perfection when he was 11-of-11 midway through the fourth quarter, surpassing the standard of 9-of-9 shared by Vern Fleming, Dale Davis, and Domantas Sabonis. Roger Brown holds the overall franchise record with a 14-of-14 performance set on Jan. 25, 1969 in an American Basketball Association victory over Denver at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Oladipo was unaware of all that, however.

"I was just playing," he said. "I had no clue."

Same goes for Stephenson, who's just playing and not overthinking.

"We're just playing good basketball," Stephenson said. "Feeding off each other's energy, playing lockdown defense..."

Stephenson then paused and sighed, as if what had just happened — indeed, what is happening as the Pacers enter the second quarter of their season — sunk in.

"I'm just loving how we're playing," he said. "We have to keep playing like this and keep having fun."

Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel, whose Orlando team dropped its ninth consecutive game after an 8-4 start, knows something about what Stephenson can and cannot do. Stephenson was nearly an All-Star selection and led the NBA in triple-doubles (five) in the 2013-14 season under Vogel. Asked before the game why Stephenson has been a sensation for the Pacers again after stops in Charlotte, the Clippers, Memphis, New Orleans, and Minnesota, Vogel had a ready answer.

"Lance is an acquired taste," he said. "Some coaches can get irritated with some of the habits that he plays with and I think that happened in some of the stops he encountered when he left here. It's more surprising to me that he didn't have success elsewhere than it is that he's had success here."

Stephenson's "habits" include dancing, galloping, high-fiving fans and strumming an air guitar. Vogel gave him leeway in the final two seasons of Stephenson's first chapter with the Pacers, and his successor, Nate McMillan, is doing the same. So far, it's working out to everybody's liking, opponents excluded.

Only eight Pacers played, but most of them played well. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 22 points, Myles Turner 18, and Sabonis 19 off the bench. The NBA's most accurate 3-point shooting team hit 15-of-26 attempts, lifting its season percentage to .409. If that holds, it will become the franchise's most accurate team from that distance, ABA seasons included, surpassing the .392 rate of the 1999-2000 team.

Oladipo, who's hitting 46 percent of his attempts, is a big reason for that. He opened Monday's game in overeager mode, committing three turnovers before barely more than three minutes had passed.

"I was lifting weights yesterday, so I was a little stronger than usual," he deadpanned afterward. "I was a little too excited. I just had to calm myself down."

He was calm enough, though, to make every shot until 6 1/2 minutes remained. His final make came on a 3-pointer from the left wing after dribbling to his left in which a defender clicked his shooting arm. It hit the backboard, the rim, the backboard and the rim again before falling through.

He shrugged after that one. What could he say?

"When you're making stuff like that, you don't know where it's coming from," he said.

Stephenson was equally mystified by his contribution on the Pacers' following possession. Isolated on the right wing, he juked, drove toward the basket, dribbled behind his back to lose his defender and dropped a blind bounce pass to Sabonis, who was cutting from the left baseline. Sabonis hit a reverse layup over Orlando center Nikola Vucevic, extending the Pacers' lead to nine.

"That pass was magical," Stephenson said. "I don't know how I saw it. The ball just got there and it happened to work."

Stephenson ran to the fans in the front row opposite the scorer's table and gave high-fives after Vogel called timeout with 7:43 left. Co-captain Turner, who didn't play in the fourth quarter, streaked across the court toward him from the Pacers' bench, waving his arms wildly and jumping as he ran, and was followed by a few of his teammates.

"I was just having fun and getting the crowd into it and getting my teammates into it," Stephenson said.

Stephenson hit another 3-pointer at 6:09, after which he played his air guitar, then Cory Joseph — who hit 3-of-5 3-pointers in the game and leads the Pacers with a .472 season percentage — hit another at 5:47 to open a 17-point lead and force another Magic timeout.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan appreciates his team's energy and chemistry, but wants the in-game celebrations toned down. He probably felt even more strongly about that in a game against his former boss, Vogel.

"We don't want to show opponents up," he said. "There's a line that you can cross in situations like that, but they were excited. There was no way for us to even get them back to the bench. There were seven minutes to go in the game and we're up nine and we saw a celebration as if there was a minute to go on the clock."

But...

"They're playing the game the right way and I like the fact that they keep moving the ball," McMillan said. "It's the proper way to play the game and these guys are playing that way."

That includes Stephenson, who occasionally forces a pass or bricks a few shots, but has lately impacted the Pacers' fast start in a major way. Remember how he started the season? Hitting 6-of-19 shots in the opener, and hitting three of his first 23 3-point shots? He's hit nine of his last 14 3-pointers, and is showing greater discretion with his shot selection.

He kept saying he was going to keep shooting, and McMillan never told him to stop.

"Coach is doing a good job letting me play through mistakes and letting me be me," Stephenson said. "I'm not going to mess up the game. My intention is to help the team and make something happen and have fun doing it."

At that moment, Oladipo's world-class singing voice rang out from the shower. Stephenson paused and laughed.

"Victor, man, he sings all day," Stephenson said.

Why not? The Pacers are a harmonious group.


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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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