The Orlando Magic used a big scoring run bridging the third and fourth quarters to stun the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, 93-92. Indiana led by 17 points in the third quarter before Orlando's second unit rallied the team for its second straight win over a conference-leading squad, and to its third straight win overall.
Magic reserve Victor Oladipo led his team with 23 points, including 13 in the decisive fourth quarter. Nik Vučević tallied a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double against Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert.
All-Star swingman Paul George scored a game-high 27 on 10-of-19 shooting for Indiana. Lance Stephenson returned from a one-game absence to torment the Magic once again, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals on the night.
Behind Jameer Nelson, the Magic got off to a hot start: the veteran point guard, who turned 32 Sunday, shot 3-of-3 form the floor for eight points in his 10 first-quarter minutes, helping Orlando take a four-point lead over the Pacers before coach Jacque Vaughn pulled him in favor of Oladipo.
With Nelson on the pine, Indiana closed the first on a 7-0 scoring run to take a 31-28 lead. Though the Magic eventually cut their deficit to three points with a long Vučević two-pointer, the Pacers pushed to nine points on a Stephenson three-pointer with nine seconds remaining in the half to take a 52-43 lead.
Offensive rebounds fueled Orlando's strong start: it scored seven points on its three first-quarter offensive boards, but didn't manage any second-chance baskets in the second period as the Pacers grabbed 11 of 12 available Orlando misses. Forcing tough shots is Indiana's stock-in-trade and is one reason why it owns the league's best defense. Getting stickbacks off those misses is one way to combat that defense, but it's not a sustainable source of production.
Orlando's offensive woes--or Indiana's defensive brilliance, if you prefer--extended into the second half. Nearly three minutes elapsed before the Magic made a basket, allowing the Pacers to extend their lead to double-digits for the first time. Credit the Pacers' defense for playing physically and keeping the ball stapled, for the most part, on one side of the floor.
Against the Pacers' second unit, Orlando made some headway in the third quarter, drawing to within nine on a pair of Tobias Harris foul shots. George answered by swishing a three-pointer from the left corner. When the period ended, the Pacers had added only a point to their halftime advantage. Indiana failed to make the most of its best opportunity to shut the proverbial door on Orlando.
Oladipo opened the fourth quarter with an electrifying play, stripping Stephenson and then going coast-to-coast for an old-fashioned three-point play. His foul shot brought the Magic to within seven.
Orlando's small-ball second unit continued to spark a rally, with Maurice Harkless' three-pointer at the 9:30 mark of the third bringing Orlando to within three. Harris followed that play with a floater over Luis Scola to cut the deficit to one point, and OLadipo sank a jumper moments later to lift Orlando into the lead.
The run continued unabated, with Oladipo providing energy on both ends of the floor. After hitting back-to-back go-ahead deuces, he canned a three-pointer to put the Magic up four. At that stage, the Magic rookie had outscored the Pacers in the fourth quarter by himself, 12-5.
After a Harkless fast-break layup at the 5:21 mark, the Pacers would hold Orlando without a basket for the next 3:41. Fortunately for the Magic, the Pacers only scored five points themselves in that stretch.
A George triple with 37.7 seconds to play brought the Pacers to within two points. On the ensuing inbounds, Stephenson drew a charge from Oladipo, allowing the Pacers to re-take possession.
George missed what would have been the go-ahead three, and after an intentional foul, Oladipo split a pair of free throws. Glen Davis hustled hard to force a jump ball on the missed second shot, but that play ultimately worked against the Magic: George Hill picked off the tip and went the length of the floor for an uncontested dunk, bringing the Pacers within one.
Disaster almost struck on the Magic's final possession when Vučević inbounded the ball away. George's off-balance, game-winning try missed the mark, Oladipo deflected the rebound away from the rim, and Vučević hustled down the loose ball to preserve the victory.