Magic Continue Poor Play, Fall to Pacers

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The Magic continued their recent run of less-than-stellar offensive play. Orlando got off to another slow start, couldn’t find any kind of rhythm on offense and fell to the Indiana Pacers 97-90. It was just Indiana’s second win over a team over .500 this season. After the game, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy offered his explanation for Orlando’s recent string of poor play.

"“We’re just playing terrible. Offensively, it’s just really bad right now. We cannot score.”"

Outside of Matt Barnes, the effort has not been there.

The Magic kept the game close, but every time they got the lead under six or so points, the Pacers made a run.

The Magic got into trouble early because Dwight Howard picked up two fouls in an 11-second span, the second coming just 2:41 into the game, sending him to the bench. Less than three minutes later, Vince Carter picked up his second foul. To make matters worse, Dwight Howard’s backup, Marcin Gortat also picked up his second foul with 2:11 to play in the first quarter, forcing Brandon Bass to enter the game at Center. The Magic played solid defense in the opening quarter, holding the Pacers to just 9-of-22 shooting but they shot just 8-of-24 themselves. Orlando had a 19-18 lead when Gortat picked up that second foul, which was an offensive foul. The Magic missed their next four shots and the Pacers ended the quarter on a 6-0 run.

Mickael Pietrus was on fire to start the second quarter. He scored eight quick points and helped the Magic regain the lead, 27-26. The Pacers counted with a 13-2 run. The Magic made a couple of nice plays, including Rashard Lewis’ jumper at the buzzer to cut the halftime lead to 45-39.

Throughout the first half, the Magic had no answer for Roy Hibbert. As Magic Assistant Coach Brendan Malone pointed out at halftime, Hibbert was outscoring Orlando’s entire starting lineup.

Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul just nine seconds into the third quarter but Van Gundy opted to leave Howard in. The Magic finally started to hit some shots and actually tied the game at 60 on two J.J. Redick free throws late in the quarter. Indiana closed the quarter on an 8-2 run. During the run, Orlando misfired on several easy shots and Rashard Lewis missed two free throws.

Orlando had a perfect start to the final quarter. Jason Williams hit a three-pointer, Orlando got a stop and J.J. Redick hit a three-pointer that Williams assisted on to tie the game. Like they did all game, Indiana answered. They went on an 8-2 run. Orlando cut the lead to two on J.J. Redick’s three-pointer with 8:02 to play but it was all Pacers the rest of the way. They went on a 14-4 run and held on for the 97-90 victory.

Dwight Howard was outplayed by Roy Hibbert all night. Howard was limited to just 28 minutes because of foul trouble. He was just 2-of-6 from the field but did do a good job of getting some good looks inside and getting to the free throw line, where he went 7-of-12. He finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks, but was forced into five turnovers. Hibbert had his best game as a pro. He was 10-of-19 from the field and 6-of-9 from the line, finishing with a career-high 26 points. He also had eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Hibbert made some ridiculous shots, including two long jumpers with hands right in his face. Both shots brought a smile to Hibbert’s face when they dropped.

Orlando’s other two leading scorers, Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter, were ineffective. A game after shooting 3-of-15 from the field, Vince Carter was just 2-of-15 from the field Tuesday night. Carter made some poor decisions – again. Just three of his shot attempts came within 10 feet of the rim. He didn’t really contribute in other areas, grabbing just three rebounds and dishing out two assists. Carter finished with six points.

Lewis, who I thought needed more looks, wasn’t in any kind of groove. Lewis was just 2-of-8 from the field, missed a couple of easy looks, did not make a three-pointer and scored just four points. To his credit, he did block three shots.

Jameer Nelson had a pretty good night. He scored 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, dishing out four assists and turned it over just once. Nelson’s defense of Earl Watson was pretty good, but with no offense to Watson, Nelson will see better players.

Mickael Pietrus, J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes kept Orlando in the game. Barnes was 6-of-10 from the field, scored 13 points and had seven rebounds. He continues to surprise with his recent scoring prowess. He has been getting to the hoop and shot 4-of-5 on shots at the rim. Pietrus’ 16 points tied him for the team-high with Nelson. He shot the ball very well, going 6-of-9 from the field and really kept the Magic in the game during the second quarter. J.J. Redick continues to impress with his ability to draw fouls. He was 4-of-4 from the line Wednesday night. He also made three three-pointers and finished with 13 points.

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Orlando’s defense was actually very good on Tuesday night. Outside of Hibbert, no Pacer player shot over 50% and they shot an effective field goal percentage of 45.8%. The Pacers did do a nice job of getting to the free throw line. They went 20-of-29 from the charity stripe.

Orlando also outrebounded the Pacers. They had 52 rebounds to Indiana’s 44 and had a rebounding percentage of 55.6%.

Orlando had trouble with turnovers again. They turned the ball over 20 times and those turnovers results in 20 Pacer points.

Outside of turnovers, the main culprit in the Magic’s loss was their offense. The Magic shot an eFG% of just 43.6%. They made just 15 their 24 free throw attempts.

Game Notes:

  • Despite Hibbert’s 26 points, the Magic actually outscored the Pacers in the pain 38-28.
  • Orlando also had 17 fast break points to Indiana’s 10.
  • Vince Carter was -14 tonight, far and away the lowest of any player in the game.
  • Jason Williams had three assists and two turnovers.
  • Marcin Gortat had eight points and eight rebounds off of the bench but was plagued by first half foul trouble.

Next Up: The Magic must turn right around, head back home and get ready to take on Hedo Turkoglu and the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night at the Am.

Final Thought: The Magic must find a solution to their offensive woes. That solution should start with more energetic play.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)