The Orlando Magic kept the game within reach in the first three quarters, but the Indiana Pacers put the game to bed with an 11-1 run to start the fourth quarter, ultimately beating the Magic, 97-87.
The Magic got off to a dubious start off the bat trailing 10-0 early in the first. It could have easily gone all downhill from there, but the Magic slowly picked at the Pacers lead throughout the first half and Orlando actually held a 44-40 lead at halftime. Both teams traded leads in the third but a Paul George buzz beater three at the top of the key put Indiana up 69-64 going into the fourth quarter. Throw in the aforementioned 11-1 run, and the fourth quarter was really a wash.
Boy, Nik Vucevic really struggled against Roy Hibbert in this one, which is to be expected. Hibbert’s one of the best centers in the East. Vuc had a -22 differential tonight, by far the worst on the team. Roy really disrupted Vucc on both ends of the floor. Hibbert didn’t get many plays run his way, but the few times he did receive the ball in the post he was able to get good position near the basket. Hibbert also basically got to every ball that came approached his general direction (16 reb, 7 blocks).
Andrew Nicholson was unconscious in the first half (18 pts), shooting 8/9 from the field. He only got up one shot in the second half, which he missed. Nicholson was 2/2 on corner threes tonight. He’s been impressive shooting from the corner throughout October.
Despite the warm welcome Indiana fans, Victor Oladipo didn’t play his best game. A lot of that is because of Paul George. It’s a tall task to go up against one of the best two-way players in the league in your first ever NBA game. George absolutely suffocated VO on defense, and when Victor did get the ball he didn’t have much room to work with. Oladipo shot 4-for-11 with 12 points, 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
For the Pacers, Paul George didn’t disappoint. He was efficient (24 points on 16 shots) on offense and devastating on defense. I was also really impress with Lance Stephenson’s performance on Tuesday. He’s proving to be that x-factor that the Pacers need. 8-for-12 shooting and he really pushed the pace in a smart, controlled way tonight. Easy to see why some believe the Pacers can live without Danny Granger.
The Orlando Magic travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves Wednesday, October 30th at 8 pm.