Indiana is the kind of team that can get under any opponent's skin. Even the typically cool and even-handed Jacque Vaughn.
The physical play and the lack of whistles finally got to the mild-mannered Vaughn. After referees called a double technical foul on Kyle O'Quinn and Roy Hibbert while they battled for a post-free throw rebound, Vaughn asked for an explanation. He did not get one and kept pressing. And so was Vaughn's first technical foul as a head coach.
It clearly riled the coach up as he hoped to find some spark for a Magic team stuck in the mud offensively. He picked up his second technical foul and was ejected from the game.
It was that kind of odd, frustrating game.
The Pacers were simply a better team in many, many ways. Tyler Hansbrough's boundless energy helped Indiana overcome its own shooting woes. The Pacers made their shots first and were better at executing their offense than the Magic.
In other words, Indiana looked like the second best team in the East and Orlando looked like the 14th as Indiana defeated Orlando 95-73 at Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
There really may not be more to say. The Pacers defense was crisp and in strong form going up against a Magic team struggling to get anything going offensively. Orlando shot 31.8 percent and 3 for 15 from beyond the arc. Shots were not going in.
The Magic had the right mindset though. They looked to attack the basket and challenge Roy Hibbert. Hibbert though was up to the challenge and changed numerous shots at the rim, even though he had just one block. Orlando were missing a variety of floaters and lay ins trying to get around the size inside.
As the shots did not fall, the frustration offensively grew it seemed. Indiana turned Orlando into a largely 1 on 1 team and Orlando could not crack the safe with any dribble penetration. The Magic had only 12 assists on 28 made field goals.
The Magic got nothing from their starters as each one struggled from the floor. Maurice Harkless had 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Arron Afflalo had 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting. Jameer Nelson had eight points on 2-for-13 shooting. Nikola Vucevic had nine points and 11 rebounds on 4-for-12 shooting. Tobias Harris scored just six points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Give Orlando credit though. Despite the struggles to score, the team kept fighting and kept playing defense. That is something the Magic certainly want to build in their young players. Indiana shot only 39.1 percent for the game and never really pulled away from Orlando until late in the third quarter.
There was the sense that if the Magic could crack that defense, they could make a run. It was not to be though. And maybe that is just wishful thinking in a lot of ways.
The Pacers are a team that can do the dirty work and does not mind a physical game. That was proven in the way Hansbrough mixed things up in the paint. He grabbed 10 offensive rebounds on his way to 14 rebounds and 14 points. He had an impact on the game discouraging Orlando's defense and eventually breaking the team down.
What are you going to do?
The Pacers were expected to win this game and they did. The Magic would have needed a supremely strong effort. While the team had been playing well entering the game, it was a matter of time before Orlando had a come-to-earth game. Fortunately, there is a chance to get back on the court tomorrow.