Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick keyed the Orlando Magic's 107-94 victory against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night in a game that rarely felt competitive. The pair combined for 20 of the Magic's 36 first-period points, helping the team build a 14-point lead after the first 12 minutes and forcing the Pacers to dig themselves out of a hole. And Indiana didn't do itself any favors from the outside, going 1-of-12 on three-point shots on the night. Paul George scored 22 points and hauled in eight boards to lead Indiana, which was done in by its inability to cover Orlando in the pick-and-roll.
Howard dominated to the tune of 30 points (on 11-of-14 shooting), 13 boards, five assists, four steals, and a blocked shot, putting him in good statistical company. Redick, in a spot-start for the injured Jason Richardson, may have stolen the show, though: the six-year veteran shot 7-of-14 from the floor and dished a career-best nine assists. Despite George's significant height advantage and the Pacers' defensive pedigree--they entered the game as the league's seventh-most efficient defense--Indiana simply couldn't take anything away in the pick-and-roll, resulting in the 36-22 first-quarter carnage.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
That Indiana came out flat ought not surprise anyone, as it came off a 93-91 loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday night. The Magic, meanwhile, had two days off prior to Sunday's matchup with Indiana, giving it another decisive advantage; Howard, even going up against a fellow All-Star in Roy Hibbert, is a built-in decisive advantage.
The game wasn't without blemishes for Orlando, which allowed 12 straight points to the Pacers to close the first half, bringing Indiana to within striking distance at 11 points. During that span, the Magic committed five turnovers and allowed speedy Pacers point guard Darren Collison to get wherever he wanted. Orlando opened the second half wtih a turnover, and then gave up a jumper to Danny Granger as Indy found itself within single digits for the first time since the 2:25 mark of the first period.
It's just not a Magic game if the team doesn't get out to a big lead, only to let its foot off the proverbial gas and watch the opponent to string together a few scores.
Fortunately for the Magic, Howard delivered. Running the offense through him in the post allowed Orlando to extend its lead back into double digits, eventually reacing 20 again on a pair of Howard foul shots at the 5:06 mark of the third. In that period alone, Howard tallied 15 points and seven rebounds, which is reasonable productivity from an NBA center for an entire game.
The extended garbage time afforded the Magic the opportunity to give their deep bench players some burn. Rookie center Daniel Orton managed his first field goal, a monstrously strong two-handed jam off a feed from fellow rookie and former Kentucky Wildcats teammate DeAndre Liggins. That was the lone Magic highlight in a dreadful fourth period, one in which players not named Glen Davis shot 4-of-14 from the floor for 10 points. Eruptions from Tyler Hansbrough (13 of his 19 points) and Dahntay Jones (all 10 of his points) made the final score a bit more respectable from Indiana's perspective.