It did not take long for Jacque Vaughn to shake the cobwebs out of an Orlando team that looked to be enjoying being home a little too much at the beginning of its game against Indiana on Wednesday at Amway Center.
The Magic still looked like they had tired legs in falling behind 9-2 early in the game and seeing their offense stagnate with too much isolation play and falling into the trap of letting the Pacers dictate things defensively. Jacque Vaughn called a timeout and the Magic began to play.
Orlando got the ball moving and began an onslaught to end the first quarter that led to a double digit lead the team would never relinquish. A 14-2 run to close the first quarter gave the Magic a lead entering the second quarter. From there the ball movement continued and the 3-pointers were falling.
It felt like everything was working even with the Pacers keeping the Magic to a relatively slow pace. Orlando was devastatingly efficient in hitting a season-high 12 3-pointers (on just 21 attempts) and dished out 29 assists on 40 field goals. The Magic went at Roy Hibbert and got him out of the game, freeing up the paint and loosening up the league's top defense.
Orlando was firing on all cylinders and dismantled Indiana 97-86.
The Magic had a balanced scoring attack to lead them to this victory and that made it easier for the team to share the ball and keep it moving. This is how the Magic offense was always supposed to work.
For instance, early on Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis were isolated often in the post with few outlets. The Magic were forcing few defensive rotations. Jameer Nelson too was driving into the paint looking to pass rather than score with Roy Hibbert in the paint. His shot blocking was changing how the Magic attacked.
Orlando got aggressive as the game went on though Afflalo got free on pin down screens and curls to get into the paint and force the defense to rotate, opening up interior passes to Nikola Vucevic (often left open from Hibbert's rotation to try and block the shot) and opening up the perimeter.
J.J. Redick is a master of running off screens and he really helped open the floodgates in scoring 14 points off the bench and hitting four of his six 3-pointers. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 15 rebounds, doing a good job helping get Hibbert into foul trouble and taking advantage of the defense shifting away from him. Vucevic's ability to spread the floor began to drag Hibbert out of the paint and open things up in the paint.
As a team, Orlando ended up shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and 12 for 21 from beyond the arc (57.1 percent). Those 3-pointers were a key difference in the game.
Credit though has to go to that regenerated Magic defense. With Andrew Nicholson returning to a reserve role and Glen Davis starting his first game since his injury, Orlando's defense was much more in sync. The team forced 15 turnovers for 23 points off turnovers.
Indiana struggled to get much penetration and the team's post players never got settled going up against Davis or Vucevic. The Magic looked like they did earlier in the season when teams had to rely on their 3-point shooting to defeat the Magic rather than parading into the lane as the defense was late to rotate.
It was a welcome sight for sure.
And it was an extremely welcome win for Orlando after the somewhat embarrassing final in Washington at the end of the road trip. With the team settling in at home for the next week, the Magic are slowly getting back to the kind of play that inspired hope just a month ago.