The Orlando Magic scored the last 11 points in game one of the first round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers to erase a seven-point lead and take game one, 81-77.
Jameer Nelson had 17 points and nine rebounds to lead the Magic while David West had 19 points for the Pacers.
The Magic didn’t get off to a good start, falling behind 22-14 in the first quarter. The Magic responded well, closing the quarter on a 7-0 run. The Magic kept the momentum rolling in the second quarter, twice taking the lead on Quentin Richardson buckets. Jason Richardson got hot, hitting three three-pointers in the quarter and the Magic finished the half well, taking a 51-44 lead into the break.
The Pacers came out in the third quarter with much more energy and clamped down defensively, starting the quarter on a 14-6 run to take a one-point lead. Orlando shot just 6-of-18 in the quarter, but used a late three-pointer by Ryan Anderson and stingy defense to take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Magic quickly let the lead slip away, allowing the Pacers to build a seven-point lead with just under four minutes to play. That’s when the Magic turned the game around. First, Jameer Nelson mad a 10-foot jumper, then after a stop, Jason Richardson came off of a curl to drain a three-pointer, cutting the lead to two. After poor possessions by both teams, the Magic fouled Danny Granger. Granger missed both free throws and the Magic ran another play for Richardson. He responded by burying another three-pointer. The Magic got two free throws from Nelson to push the lead to three, but after a Darren Collison jumper wouldn’t go, Earl Clark got the rebound and missed two free throws. When Indiana got the ball, Danny Granger traveled trying to get good footing for a three-point attempt and J.J. Redick sealed the deal at the line.
You can’t say enough about the Orlando defense. They’ve been absolutely awful since Dwight Howard went down, but they couldn’t have played much better Saturday night. The Pacers were just 30-of-87 (34.5%) from the field and posted an effective field goal percentage of 36.8%. The Pacers did a decent job of getting to the free throw line, but went just 13-of-22 from the stripe. The Pacers missed some shots they should easily hit and will most likely shoot better from the line then they did Saturday, but Orlando’s defense deserves a ton of credit. Fantastic performance.
Orlando’s offense, which has been solid lately, fell apart in the second half. They scored just 30 points on 12-of-33 shooting in the second half and knocked down just three three-pointers. With Chris Duhon in the game, the offense was once again stagnant. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy needs to give Ish Smith some serious consideration as the backup point guard – they can’t have Jameer Nelson playing 40 minutes every night. That would be tough for him to handle.
Overall, the Magic shot 32-of-81 (39.5%) from the field, got to the free throw line just 11 times (8-of-11) and posted an effective field goal percentage of 45.1%. They turned the ball over 13 times, which isn’t a terrible number, but they turned it over a little too much in the fourth quarter (five times) – they may not be so lucky if they do that again.
- Jameer Nelson was excellent. His numbers look very good- 17 points, nine assists, three rebounds and three turnovers. Despite Darren Collison’s excellent defense of Nelson, he continued to make good decisions for the most part and get the Magic into good situations. He also hit two big free throws to give Orlando a three-point lead, something they really haven’t done.
- Glen Davis had a terrible night shooting (8-of-20) and continues to take way too many long two-point jumpers. However, Davis’s effort can’t be questioned. He gave the Indiana big men a lot of trouble on the defensive end. He finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
- The Magic have to do a better job of hitting mid range jumpers because those are the shots they had the most open looks on. Indiana did a decent job of taking away the three-pointer and Roy Hibbert (8 points, 13 rebounds, 9 blocks) stopped the Magic from rally getting into the paint (although Nelson did a decent job of getting to the hoop because the Pacers were so worried about Orlando’s screeners).
- Ryan Anderson hit a big three in the third quarter, but scored just 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting. The Pacers clearly wanted to take Anderson away and they did a decent job.
- Hedo Turkoglu got off to a good start early, helping to keep the Magic in the game as the Pacers built a 10-point lead. Turkoglu had 9 points on 3-of-10 shooting and added 3 assists and 3 rebounds.
- Jason Richardson was just 6-of-15 from the field, but was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and made those two huge three-pointers down the stretch. Good to see the Magic get big plays out of both of their starting guards down the stretch.
- Earl Clark is still a mess on offense, but played well defensively, blocking four shots. He also had 6 points on 2-of-6 shooting.
- Quentin Richardson gave the Magic 5 points and 4 rebounds off of the bench.
- The Pacers missed a lot of good looks and made some key mistakes, but the Magic didn’t play all that well either. Anderson scored just 5 points and they were awful on offense for the most part.
Next Up: Game 2 is Monday at 7:30 pm EST.
Final Thought: Anyone who is questioning Orlando’s effort clearly hasn’t been watching them the last couple of weeks.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)