After falling to an early deficit to the Magic on Thursday night, the Pacers were not about to regain control of the game, falling to the youthful Magic 114-94, and making their pursuit of the postseason perilous in the process.
Indiana entered the night a half-game back on the Pistons and two games up on Bulls. The loss, which was Indiana's second in a row, turns players and fans alike into scoreboard watchers for the rest of the season as the Bulls try to sneak back into the playoff picture, owning the season tiebreaker over the Pacers. And unfortunately for Indiana, the Bulls had a come-from-behind 103-100 win over the Houston Rockets tonight, bringing Chicago within just one game of the Pacers in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Magic outscored the Pacers in every quarter of the 20-point loss, putting the night away with a 25-15 fourth quarter to seal the game. Paul George led the Pacers in scoring with 27 points on the night, but after a Ty Lawson layup with seven minutes remaining brought Indiana's deficit to 12, the Magic took off, scoring seven unanswered points to make it a nearly insurmountable lead in the final minutes.
In the first half, the Magic used runs of 8-2 and 7-2 to build a lead as high as 12 points in the second quarter. The Pacers struggled to defend the paint, getting outscored 34-20 inside the post, yet Indiana still managed to narrow the gap to just six points at the break.
When the second half began, things looked like they might get out of hand as the Magic went up by nine, but the Pacers responded with an 11-2 run to tie the game up at 62 after a pair of Paul George free throws.
But the Magic simply wouldn't relent, scoring 30 points in the third quarter and turning their six-point edge into a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Offensively, George erupted in the third, scoring 16 points to help Indiana keep pace with the blitzing Magic, but a late turnover proved costly as Brandon Jennings hit a shot at the buzzer to push Orlando's lead to double-digits once again.
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Throughout the entire game, it seemed every Indiana run was parried by an equally forceful counterpunch by the Magic. In the fourth, when C.J. Miles hit a triple assisted by Lawson to bring Indiana's deficit to nine, the Magic quickly reeled off a 4-0 run to push its lead back to double digits.
The spurt of offense triggered Pacers head coach Frank Vogel to call timeout with 9:11 remaining in the game, and reinsert Ian Mahinmi into the game, with the rest of the starters soon to follow.
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Despite a late attempt at a run, the Magic's 7-0 spurt in the fourth put it away, sending the Pacers to the head-scratching loss, as the time remaining to grab a playoff spot continues to shrink.
Inside the Numbers
Lavoy Allen matched his Pacers career-high with 8 offensive rebounds. Allen finished the night with 12 points and 11 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season.
Indiana turned the ball over 19 times, and was outscored 54-44 in the paint.
The Magic racked up 114 points while only hitting five 3-pointers, doing the majority of their damage inside the arc.
Nikola Vucevic, who had missed recent games with injury, came off the bench to the tune of 24 points on 12-of-15 shooting.
You Can Quote Me On That
"When you have a five man who can shoot it like (Nikola) Vucevic that opens it up with the guards. We have to be sharp with our coverages. We've got to play better, we've got to do everything better. We have to figure out what pieces fit with each other." -Pacers head coach Frank Vogel
"It's not effort. Again, I think it's the matchup. Teams that spread us out cause us the most trouble. They're a three point shooting team but they got hot in the midrange. And they got some good baskets at the rim. This team was hot tonight." -Pacers forward Paul George
"Defensively. I think in the second half of the Chicago game we played pretty good defense. But tonight it just wasn't there." -Lavoy Allen on what he would like to see improve in the Pacers' next game
- Rookie Myles Turner was 3-of-11 from the field, but pulled down eight rebounds
- Magic shooting guard Evan Fournier was 10-of-14 from the field for a team-high 25 points
- The Pacers hit on 7-of-19 3-pointers (36.8 percent) and outrebounded the Magic 49-44
- It was Orlando's first win in Indianapolis since February 4, 2012
Stat of the Night
The Magic exploited the Pacers inside, outscoring Indiana 56-44 in the paint and connecting on 58 percent of its shots from inside the 3-point line.
The Pacers head the to East Coast for a back-to-back against the Sixers on Saturday and the Knicks on Sunday. Indiana only has three regular season home games remaining, so secure your seats now: Find Tickets »
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
Select Pacers Hooded Sweatshirt - $25. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersGear.com until midnight.