Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY
Asking Orlando to keep pace with Indiana was going to be a tall task.
The Pacers hold the NBA's best record, a top-of-the-line defense and a grind-it-out offense that features so many players that just fill their roles and and take advantage of your mistakes and any moment you take a break. If Orlando turned its head or failed to pay attention to detail, Indiana was going to take advantage of it.
When the Magic blinked in the third quarter, the two-point deficit the Magic fought so hard to get back to was gone in a flash. The Pacers went on a 20-6 run in the span of about 12 minutes — nearly a full quarter of play — to turn that close game into a 20-point rout.
The Magic did what a team in their position does — miss shots and get beat by a team able to execute at an extremely efficient and high level. The result was what you would expect as Indiana ran away for a 98-79 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday.
Orlando scored just 29 points in the second half after fighting tooth and nail to keep the game close.
Like in Sunday's loss, the Pacers took the lead early and put the Magic behind the 8-ball. Orlando did a good job keeping Indiana within striking distance. Arron Afflalo scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half, draining a couple of big 3-pointers — particularly one at the end of the second quarter that gave Orlando momentum heading into the locker room.
The Magic did a good job trying to get out on the break when they could and keeping some kind of energy going. The Pacers had their offense rolling for good chunks of the game and made baskets early on. It is hard to figure out how the Magic stayed in this one. It always seemed Indiana was on the cusp of pulling away.
Orlando kept fighting. The team was not able to get into the paint much or get to the foul line, but it found a way to keep the game close.
So the Magic did what they always do, and they fought and played hard hoping their effort and energy would keep the game relatively close. The defense improved as the game went on and the Pacers found it more difficult to score.
Nikola Vucevic did a good job keeping Roy Hibbert honest on both ends, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Victor Oladipo struggled from the floor again but had a career-high 11 assists.
The problem was Orlando was not able to keep the offensive mojo going. Eventually the shots completely dried up and the Pacers found a way through the Magic's defense.
Orlando shot 39.8 percent from the floor when all was said and done. The 29 points in the second half simply would not cut it — even with the Magic giving up 39 points to the Pacers. Indiana got 16 points off the bench from Danny Granger as players like Granger and Luis Scola provided Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson the support they needed to blow open the game and blow past the Magic.
Orlando was not able to get into the paint much because of Hibbert and that stellar Indiana defense. The deficit only seemed to grow from there.
A veteran team with championship aspirations beat a team at the bottom of the standings. That appeared to be all.