The Orlando showed great fight again, but didn’t have enough to overcome the absence of Dwight Howard and the talent differential, running out of gas down the stretch, falling to the Indiana Pacers 105-87 and losing the series three games to one.
Jameer Nelson was great for the Magic, leading the team with 27 points and 5 assists while Danny Granger had 25 for the Pacers. Darren Collison scored 19 off of the bench.
You’ve certainly heard this one before – the Pacers dominated the first quarter and built a 15-point lead at 28-13. Orlando was just 6-of-19 (31.6%) from the floor in the opening quarter. The Magic did, however, score the last six points of the quarter to cut the lead to nine. The Magic continued that momentum into the second quarter. They allowed the Pacers to push the lead back to 11, but ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to just three.
The Magic took the lead 51-50 early in the third quarter before the Pacers rattled off four straight points. Indiana pushed the lead back to five at 61-56. With Jameer Nelson on the attack, the Magic quickly took the lead back on a Nelson three-pointer at 66-64 and eventually brought a 71-69 lead into the final quarter. Nelson had 15 third quarter points. With Nelson on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Pacers started the quarter on a 9-2 run, taking a five-point lead before Van Gundy had to go back to Nelson, but mistakes and great execution by the Pacers put the game out of reach. The Pacers put their foot on the gas while the Magic ran out of gas. In the quarter, Indiana shot 15-of-20 (75%) from the field and went 4-of-7 (57.1%) from beyond the arc. That’s an effective field goal percentage of 85%.
Jameer Nelson was the bright spot for the Magic Tuesday night. For most of the night, especially in the third quarter, Nelson was getting almost anything he wanted. He probably could have driven a little more, but with the way he was hitting from the outside (5-of-8 from beyond the arc), it’s tough to criticize him. With Nelson on the bench to start the final quarter, Indiana quickly took the lead back with a 9-2 run. When Nelson got back in the game, he looked like he ran out of gas a little bit and the Pacers simply ran away with it. For the game, Nelson tied a playoff career-high 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, dished out 5 assists, grabbed 4 rebounds and didn’t turn the ball over. In what could be his final game with the Magic, Nelson was fantastic.
- Orlando’s starting wings, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu, were horrible again. Richardson was 3-of-7 from the field and 1-of-5(!) from the free throw line, finishing with just 8 points. Turkoglu had 7 points on 1-of-6 shooting. The duo also combined for 2 turnovers. Orlando’s best wing, J.J. Redick, came off of the bench to score 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
- Expectedly, the Pacers again dominated the Magic in the paint, scoring 46 points to Orlando’s 22. The Pacers had 22 second chance points to Orlando’s 12, 18 fast break points to Orlando’s 0 and pulled down 43 rebounds to Indiana’s 34.
- Darren Collison was an absolute monster, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the final quarter. After the game, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters Collison turned the game. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting and had 6 assists.
Next Up: The season has come to an end – now the questions surrounding Van Gundy, Howard and Otis Smith can heat up even more.
Final Thought: The Magic gave another great effort, but they were simply overmatched. Magic fans should be proud of their team for the way they competed.
(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)