Another night and another tight Magic game. Missed free throws, poor execution on open looks and a bad call sealed Orlando’s fate in a 118-120 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
THE OPENING QUARTER
Aaron Gordon opened the scoring with three 3’s and a 2 under the basket for an 11-5 lead. That forced a quick time out for Indiana. A further 3 from Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic saw a 17-9 Orlando lead inside the 3:30 played. The Magic had hit 5-6 from the deep.
Indiana responded in every way. Swarming D, strong rebounding, active hands, drives to the basket, sharp passing and accuracy on the 3 ball. It resulted in a Pacers 20-2 run. From only 4 Magic turnovers 10 points had come for Indiana.
By the close Orlando trailed 28-37, scoring only 11 points in the final 8:30 minutes of the quarter.
INTO THE SECOND QUARTER
More intensity from Orlando saw them retake the lead, having been down 12. Baskets were exchanged throughout the quarter as both teams slugged it out. The now 6 Magic turnovers had resulted in 15 points in the half, a disproportionate amount.
At the half it was a Pacers lead 60-62. It was already clear this would be another tight Magic game
THE THIRD QUARTER
A close and competitive battle ensued as both teams played hard. Fournier unusually struggled at the line as he repeatedly drew fouls.
Orlando looked to have regained the lead at the buzzer with a 3 from Dwayne Bacon, which was good. However the Replay Centre correctly ruled an earlier Gary Clark 3 was out of bounds and so took those points away. Orlando trailed 87-88.
Every Magic player who had been on the court had worked hard and played their part.
INTO THE FOURTH
Again the teams went toe-to-toe but the Pacers were able to push their lead out to 5. Gordon was having an outstanding game as he made good decisions at the point. With just over 5 minutes to play back-to-back 3’s from Vooch gave Orlando a 101-100 lead.
Again the Pacers counterpunched. With 1:32 the game was tied at 106-106. A Terrence Ross 3 had levelled the score and was followed up with a 2 under the basket from a beautiful pass by Vooch for a 108-106 lead with 57 seconds remaining.
It has to be said that numerous poorly executed plays and missed free throws now told for Orlando.
With 14 seconds remaining on an inbound pass Evan Fournier was clubbed to the floor. No foul was called and Indiana given possession from which Myles Turner made it 108-108. The final Magic play was messed up and Pacers stole the ball with 1.8 remaining but they could not get a shot to go.
OT IN ANOTHER TIGHT MAGIC GAME
Controversy continued as the officials missed Malcolm Brogdon having a heel out of bounds on a made 3. Despite the Magic protests it took the Replay Centre to bail out the confused officials with a decision.
With 53 seconds remaining Orlando led 117-114 after a Vooch score under the basket on a broken play to just beat the shot clock. A missed Fournier 3 saw Indiana take a 118-120 lead with 2.8 remaining, a Brogdon shot from beyond the arc. In a final play Evan Fournier took a shot from a decent look for the 3 but missed as the buzzer sounded.
THE FINAL SCORE – 118-120
Whilst it is easy to blame a bad call for the loss it would not be accurate.
Yes, that bad call changed the game dynamic at a crucial moment. But be honest, should we have been in that position?
A free throw tally on the night saw the Magic go 15 of 24, that is 9 missed points from the charity stripe. Indiana were 16 of 18, so a 5 point deficit in a 2 point loss. Two of those came when Ross had an opportunity to give the Magic a four point lead with 44 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.
Orlando shot the ball well on the night, 45.7% field goal and 45.9% from beyond the arc. It is also true to say that some important and good opportunity shots were missed. Fournier, Ross, Gordon, Vucevic and Cole Anthony all responsible to some extent or other.
Perhaps something that is easy to overlook is how impactful the Indiana defence was in a game where stats were very level between the teams. Indiana had 9 steals and 5 blocks. Tellingly they forced Orlando into a total of 14 turnovers from which came 25 points.
MOVING ON FROM ANOTHER TIGHT MAGIC GAME
Orlando now return to the Amway to face Charlotte in a back-to-back in the Amway on Sunday and Monday night.
A full game review by Josh Cohen on the Orlando Magic website can be read here.