Orlando Magic Grades: Indiana Pacers 111, Orlando Magic 106

The Indiana Pacers' tough defense and depth spelled trouble for Gary Harris and the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers' tough defense and depth spelled trouble for Gary Harris and the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

111. 100. 106. 38. Final

The reality for the Orlando Magic with all of their youth and inexperience is likely going to be inconsistency. Inconsistency like Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.

The Magic raced out with an offense that looked tied together and kept up with the Pacers and their pesky defense and ball movement. Then it went quiet.

Quiet for nearly the final six minutes of the second quarter. The Magic scored just four points in the final 5:47 of the quarter and did not make a field goal until the third quarter began. That buried Orlando into a 15-point hole.

Then the slow climb out began. It started with defense as the Magic held the Pacers to 14 points in the third quarter. The team found some rhythm offensively in the quarter and cut the deficit down to three at one point.

But Indiana would extend it back out with another long drought for the Magic — a 15-6 run to open the fourth quarter and bring the lead back to 15. Orlando again scrambled to make it a game. But could not find the last shots needed to get over the hump fully and finally.

The Pacers held on for an 111-106 win over the Magic at the Amway Center on Friday. Orlando is still trying to get all the pieces together consistently and going through the youthful mistakes they surely saw coming.

Orlando certainly played again with great energy defensively. The team was committing itself to keeping the Pacers out of the middle and looking to blitz screens. They were trying to crowd players in the paint and give Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba plenty of help on the glass.

This led to more than a few open 3-pointers and poor defensive rotations. The Pacers ended the game shooting 11 for 33 after a solid 8-for-16 shooting in the first half. Orlando used those misses to creep back into the game.

But the Magic just did not have the push or consistency to get all the way back. They made just 6 of 24 3-pointers, robbing the team of a key offensive weapon that is necessary for them to stay afloat.

The Pacers took advantage of the team being slow getting back and just not being precise. Teams now clearly have some tape on the Magic and are using that to their advantage.

A-. . G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

There have been so many moments in the last three years where Terrence Ross seemingly willed the Orlando Magic into games, keeping them within shouting distance for the finishing group to have a chance to win. His ability to hit tough shots is legendary and he is truly one of the few tough shot-makers the Magic have. He delivered that again.

Ross scored a team-high 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting. He was decisive with his shots and sharp with his cuts. The Magic needed every bit of it to stay in the game. The Pacers started committing more attention to him and that opened things up for others. The rest of his game needed some work. Ross is not a decisionmaker or playmaker and that was apparent as the Magic tried desperately to find points late in the game and the Pacers sat on Ross throughout.

C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA. B+.

Minutes and the comfort of knowing you can play through mistakes goes a long way for a player like Mohamed Bamba. He continued his solid scoring run with another 14-point effort, shooting 4 for 10 from the floor. He was also a lot more aggressive trying to get to the paint and to the rim, something he has seemingly shied away from earlier in his career.

The real leaps for Bamba will come on the defensive end. There he is still a bit inconsistent. But the flashes of good are beginning to counterbalance some of the mistakes he is making and in some cases outweigh them. Bamba had three blocks and probably should have been credited with a fourth. He is holding his spot better and not jumping on pump fakes or overcommitting. The Magic are still crashing more bodies in the paint to help him on the glass (he had six rebounds) but Bamba is playing well at this point.

SG. Orlando Magic. GARY HARRIS. B.

Gary Harris made his Orlando Magic debut, playing a shade less than 18 minutes, and certainly looking eager to impress. He played very within himself, doing a good job slashing through the lane and driving at the right opportunities to get to the basket. His defense was solid for the most part and the team was +2 with him on the floor — he split minutes with R.J. Hampton essentially who was -14 for some contrast.

Harris definitely looked rusty though. He missed his first eight shots and finished 2 for 10 from the floor for eight points. He was able to get to the basket but really unable to finish at the rim with any kind of consistency. It will be interesting to see if this something that just needs timing to get back.


The Orlando Magic are far more organized and consistent with Michael Carter-Williams running the show. Cole Anthony continues to improve there, but teams are still pressuring the rookie intensely. Carter-Williams sets a strong base for the team. But that does not mean Carter-Williams is doing everything he needs to for the Magic. Too often, when the Magic struggle, it is Carter-Williams trying too hard to make a play or expressing some frustration that takes him out of the game.

Carter-Williams finished with nine points on 3-for-8 shooting and just three assists, two late in the game when the Magic made their last offensive burst. He was really good at getting in the lane and to the basket. This remains one of his best skills. But he struggles to finish over length consistently and is generally not a passer in those drive-and-kick situations. Carter-Williams still gets after it defensively and is important to the team’s functioning on that end. But he still has to keep his frustrations bottled up better.

B. . 24-27. 9th East. INDIANA PACERS

The Indiana Pacers are certainly a tough team. They are really good at finding points on the margins and taking advantage of any lapses in attention through turnovers and quick push-aheads offensively. The Indiana Pacers forced 15 turnovers for 17 points in the win over the Orlando Magic. They do a really good job keeping the floor spread with shooters and they have depth in shooting to keep teams on their toes.

That is ultimately what beat the Magic in this one. Indiana was able to keep the pressure on long enough and find the outlet offensively to put the game away after building such a big lead. Still, Orlando’s defense did a number on them. Maybe it was good 3-point luck in the second half, but the Pacers were never able to completely separate themselves. Even though they ended up skating on to a win.

Next. Orlando Magic putting focus on youth in waiving Khem Birch. dark

The Orlando Magic fall to 17-35, 14th in the Eastern Conference, and six games behind the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Orlando Magic return to action Sunday at the Amway Center against the Milwaukee Bucks.