Second half collapse dooms Magic. Series now best of five. Hope remains.
The perceived impossible almost happened. The Magic led 44-42 at halftime and it looked like they had a serious shot to go on the road and steal two games against the very talented Indiana Pacers squad. That hope quickly evaporated in the 3rd quarter as Orlando was outscored 30-13 and ultimately lost the game 93 to 78.
In the end, the Magic achieved what they needed to achieve by heading into Hoosier land and stealing 1 of 2 games. They head home now with the goal of holding court, and at a minimum winning 1 of 2 again.
Indiana came out with a fury from the get-go and played with a level of intensity that ultimately broke Orlando’s back in that ugly 3rd quarter. It seemed like the Pacers got every loose ball, every break and every foul call when they pulled away in the 3rd. They started that quarter by out-rebounding Orlando by a tally of 16-1.
The keys in the first half for the Magic were the areas that the team fell apart with in the second half. Specifically the aggressive play and rebounding by Big Baby and Ryan Anderson. Baby had 14 points and 8 rebounds at the half, while Ryan had 8 and 8. Baby finished with just 4 more points and 2 more rebounds and Ryan had just 3 more points and not a single 2nd half rebound before fouling out of the game with 4 minutes remaining.
Big Baby Davis’ 18 points led the Magic in scoring, followed by J.J. Redick’s 13 points. Orlando which attempted 17 threes in the first half, only attempted 8 in the second half thanks to Frank Vogel and Indiana’s halftime adjustment to make sure his team ran them off the line.
“We are going to have to be better offensive, and I am going to have to find something. But we can’t give up 22 fast break points, 25 second chance points and have 16 turnovers It gets back to very basic things and we arent going to have a chance to win doing that.” -Stan after the game.
Indiana was paced (get it?) by a balanced scoring attack of 18 points each from Danny Granger, David West and George Hill. Paul George had 17. The Pacers made a significantly stronger effort to attack the middle in the second half and they did it effectively. Indiana finished the game with 50 points in the paint compared to just 28 for Orlando. Missing Dwight much?
Indiana deserved this victory and played harder -and smarter- than Orlando did tonight. There is plenty of blame to go around for the Magic players, but really it’s hard to harp on them too much. The reality is that they are an inferior team without Dwight Howard and should consider themselves very lucky to escape with the series at 1-1.
“They beat us with their effort and their energy tonight and that is not acceptable.” – Stan Van Gundy