The Magic may have had some bad habits in games past. One thing that always seems to be there is the strong play by the bench in the second quarter. Those first six minutes in the second quarter always seem to set a tone that could tip Orlando one way or another.
When Ryan Anderson is able to drain 3-pointers and the team is able to attack with its second unit players, the Magic are pretty difficult to beat. The lead can expand pretty quickly while the starters rest and Dwight Howard sits on the bench.
Anderson scored 14 points in the first half behind 4-for-7 shooting from the 3-point line as Orlando ran out to a 14-point halftime lead. The Magic let the lead balloon in and out from a range of 21 to 8 points throughout the second half. Indiana never really threatened. A 38-27 second quarter was enough to net the Magic a 111-96 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
Dwight Howard set the tone early scoring eight points fairly quickly and finishing with 19 points and 16 rebounds. His +20 plus/minus rating says a lot of how much he did on the floor. And really it was not just the bench doing the work (more on them in a little bit), but the starters extending and maintaining the lead.
Plus/minus is a tricky stat to put a whole ton of stock in because it is so dependent on matchups. But when the numbers are this big, you take notice. Hedo Turkoglu played a fantastic game with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Jason Richardson posted a +18 for the game in scoring 19 points and nine rebounds. Jameer Nelson came on strong late to help the Magic keep the Pacers at bay to score 12 points.
Orlando got a decent start but kind of skated by through toward the second quarter. The Magic got a little bit of an uneven effort, but they pulled through with a big second quarter.
Roy Hibbert was completely shut down and a lot of credit goes to Howard to taking him out of the game early. Danny Granger and Darren Collison each had their moments attacking the basket and the Magic had their lulls, but overall they never gave up the lead or their edge in this one.
The Pacers made a pretty big run to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter. A lot of the problems just came from taking quick shots and not getting to the basket. Things looked pretty grim as Collison was able to get the ball on the run off of long rebounds and take it to the hoop. But early in the fourth quarter Howard came in and settled some things down.
He and Turkoglu ran the pick and roll effectively and locked down the lead, eventually wearing out Granger (27 points) and Collison’s (21 points) efforts to keep the win. When the Magic needed a bucket, this is where the team went and it worked magnificently. They got the ball moving and secured the win.
Orlando’s defense was tight for most of the night. Indiana shot 41.2 percent and only 8 for 30 from beyond the arc. The offense too for the most part did its job shooting 50 percent and 16 for 34 from beyond the arc. This was a good, take-care-of-business type game.
And that is what you want at this point of the season.