Orlando Magic Grades: Indiana Pacers 111, Orlando Magic 106

Evan Fournier took to the role of primary scorer with glee as he attacked and scored efficiently. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Evan Fournier took to the role of primary scorer with glee as he attacked and scored efficiently. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic showed plenty of fight, but their execution was off and their defense was nowhere to be found in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.

111. 100. Final. 106. 38

The Orlando Magic will scratch and claw. That much they made clear in their first game without Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon in the lineup. They will not give up on any game. And when they snap to attention, they can compete.

It took them too long to get to attention after a difficult first half. And in the final moments, it was difficult for the Magic to execute and pay the attention to detail that will be necessary for the Magic to win now.

After Markelle Fultz made a play, stealing the ball from Myles Turner and flying down the court for a game-tying jam, the Magic ran out of plays. They forced a miss from Aaron Holiday. But Jonathan Isaac slipped as he tried to find Myles Turner for a box out. Turner gave the Indiana Pacers a second chance.

They did not waste it. Aaron Holiday got a mismatch in the confusion after the offensive rebound. He set up a two-man game with Justin Holiday, popping behind the 3-point line. Aaron Holiday took the pass from his brother and drained the 3-pointer for the lead.

Orlando struggled to get the ball in. When the team finally did, the Pacers surrounded Evan Fournier thanks to Terrence Ross occupying virtually the same spot. He turned the ball over and the Magic lost their opportunity to tie the game, falling 111-106 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday.

Orlando gave away a lot of things the team may not see again facing the reality of the team’s injuries.

The Magic shot 46.7 percent from the floor including 13 for 31 from beyond the arc. They got a career-high 25 points from Jonathan Isaac. They got 26 points from Evan Fournier. Orlando recovered from a 15-point deficit thanks to a 40-point third quarter.

That is not something the Magic can rely on happening even at full strength. Orlando was able to run its pick and rolls and move the ball effectively enough in this game. The turnovers and stops the team did get, it turned into points.

But this game mirrored Orlando’s earlier loss to Indiana. The Pacers gave up a lot of points to the Magic, but the Magic could not slow down the Pacers either. Indiana shot 54.4 percent from the floor. It was the Pacers’ 19 turnovers that helped keep the Magic alive.

Orlando found its defensive footing long enough to make the game close and come back. The Magic had long stretches. But the team is nowhere near the defense it was to start the season. And everyone knows they can and still have to be better.

This game might have proved Orlando has the fight to compete and still have the chance to win. It might also have proved, the team still has to play at an attentive level the team lacked for a good chunk of the game.

The margin for error is smaller. And Orlando knows opportunities like this are not ones they can pass up with their injuries.

Evan Fournier had the ball in his hands a lot. The Orlando Magic had no choice but to let him operate the offense and play the pick and roll. This was #FIBAFournier. He was composed and aggressive off the dribble, weaving his way into the interior of the defense and always a threat to score.<p>Fournier did his part. He scored 26 points and had four assists on 11-for-23 shooting. Fournier was more than willing to shoot. He had all the room and green light to do so. And he took that opportunity. His shots were generally good and he took on the responsibility of the primary playmaker. When the Magic could get him off the ball, he made his shots off the cut. Orlando could probably use more of this.</p><p>It still took Fournier a while to get the role down pat. He drove in too deep on a few occasions and forced passes that created turnovers. He had three in the game. His shot selection was not always great. But whenever he created separation and got into space, he used it effectively.</p>. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. B+

No player has more to gain from the shifting of roles and shots than Jonathan Isaac. The team, in fact, needs him to take on a bigger role and bigger responsibilities. He already makes an outsized impact defensively. And he remained everywhere defensively with nine rebounds, four steals and two blocks. He got the call on Myles Turner helping keep him to 10 points and five rebounds (he wishes it were four though).<p>But Isaac’s biggest development will come on offense. And this was the first time the Magic have probably seen Isaac so confident and so dominant on that end. He was willing to take the ball off the dribble and showed a more varied pull-up game. He had a career-high 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting. He hit four 3-pointers.</p><p>The rudimentary dribble moves and drives were encouraging. He played with a confidence that this team has not seen since he got drafted. But he still played surprisingly within himself. It did not feel like he had a lot of plays called for him. He got the ball naturally and hit the shots he got. That is a good sign. Isaac can create turnovers and finish in transition. This was a big moment for him.</p>. F. Orlando Magic. JONATHAN ISAAC. A-

Orlando Magic. D.J. AUGUSTIN. C-. <a href=. PG

MOHAMED BAMBA. B. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic

B-. The Indiana Pacers are a team that relies heavily on their defense and their efficient in-between game to beat opponents. They do not get to the foul line and they are not a volume 3-point shooting team. Expect Indiana to play a lot of close games this season. And they will hope their shot-making and willingness to shoot at any level wins them a lot of those games.<p>The Pacers stepped up late. They had some great execution to put the Magic away — although the Magic continually rallied. But the Pacers probably should not have been in this situation. They had the Magic dead to rights in the second quarter and let the Magic come back in the game over and over again.</p><p>Those 19 turnovers are not going to sit well with coach <a href=. 9-6. 6th East. INDIANA PACERS

Next. Focus heightens on Steve Clifford's rotation decisions. dark

The Orlando Magic’s road trip continues Monday in Detroit against the Detroit Pistons.