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Indiana Pacers 115, Orlando Magic 109

Carlos Arroyo passes the ball
Carlos Arroyo looks to pass around the defense of the Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal in the Magic's 115-109 loss to the Pacers on Friday night.
Photo by Phelan M. Ebanhack, the Associated Press

The Magic held a 15-point lead over the Pacers in the second half, but were significantly outplayed down the stretch and lost the game in the end, 115-109. Danny Granger, whom the Magic panned on in favor of Fran Vazquez the 2005 draft, lead the Pacers with 27 points on 6-of-7 three-point shooting. Here's the box score.

Without question, tonight's game was the most frustrating one of the season. Even our embarrassing loss against the Pistons wasn't this bad because I never got the sense we were going to win that one. The Pacers just hung around, waited for us to cool off, then took advantage of their opportunities. They also created opportunities by forcing 23 turnovers, 14 of them on steals. 14 steals!  

Here's what I don't understand: we're playing a fast-moving team with good perimeter scorers, yet we didn't play Keyon Dooling, our best bench player, at all. He was healthy, dressed, and available to play, but he didn't get into the game. He certainly would have helped defensively, and he's been hot offensively of late. Stan Van Gundy indeed made a dire mistake by not putting him in the game.

Credit the Pacers for sticking to their game plan and for not backing down from a superior opponent. They won this game every bit as much as we lost it. In the end, it's just one game out of 82. For the first 20 games, we beat the teams we were supposed to beat. That changed tonight, but blowing one game out of 21 isn't so bad, right?

Miscellaneous stuff:

  • The Magic's lineup at the end of the third quarter: Carlos Arroyo, J.J. Redick, Keith Bogans, Brian Cook, and James Augustine. I don't think that lineup would have even seen the floor in the preseason.
  • Dwight Howard had 30 points and 15 rebounds, but the Magic lost anyway. Orlando is now 3-4 this season in games in which Howard scores 30 or more points.
  • James Augustine spent time at center for the first time in his career.
  • 7 of the 8 Pacers who played scored in double-figures. The one who didn't Shawne Williams, made up for it by grabbing 5 rebounds.
  • Despite being the only Orlando bench player to score in double-figures, and being praised by Stan Van Gundy as the only Magic player who "brought it" tonight, Maurice Evans turned in a team-worst +/- rating of -10. Go figure.
  • Granger's 27-point outburst is one of many good performances by players we passed on in the 2005 draft. Remember when Sean May came off the bench for Charlotte last year and torched us for 32 points? Me too.