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Pacers 97, Magic 84: Orlando goes cold down the stretch

Orlando led by as much as five points in the final period, only to go scoreless over a six-minute span as Indiana took control.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic fought the Indiana Pacers to an 81-all draw through 41 minutes of Monday's game.

Unfortunately for the visiting Magic, they still had seven minutes to play, and they went the first six of those without scoring. All told, Orlando went 4-of-14 from the floor, with eight turnovers, in the final 12 quarter as Indiana secured a 97-84 victory.

Paul George scored 27 points to lead the Pacers, who also got 23 points and four three-pointers from George Hill. Evan Fournier posted 21 points for Orlando in another strong performance, while Victor Oladipo shot 7-of-18, with no free-throw attempts, en route to a 15-point outing. The defeat drops Orlando to 3-5 on the season and ends its two-game winning streak.

George got off to a hot start as the only Pacer to show signs of offensive life in the opening period. The All-Star forward popped off for 19 of Indy's 25 points in the quarter, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor.

But the Magic, thanks in large part to Oladipo, battled back from an early 9-3 deficit to tie the score after the first 12 minutes. Oladipo scored seven points and snared five boards in the period, making the most of Orlando's opportunities to run, particularly on possessions he started with his own boards.

Channing Frye gave the Magic a lift as well. Playing as a smallball center due to the injuries to Nik Vucevic and Jason Smith, Frye drilled a pair of long jumpers, including one triple.

The Magic faltered in the second--scoring seven baskets against six turnovers--but entered halftime trailing by just a single point. Hill shot 3-of-3 on three-pointers for Indiana, but the Magic otherwise held George and the rest of the Pacers in check. Elfrid Payton gave the visitors a boost in the period with seven points, including five foul shots in six attempts.

The visitors built their lead to as large as five points in the third quarter, only to watch as the Pacers closed the period on a 6-0 run to maintain their halftime advantage. Oladipo's pull-up jumper with just over a minute remaining gave Orlando that five-point margin, but the Pacers sank four free throws and a field goal of their own the rest of the way.

Just when it appeared as though Indiana may have taken control of the game for good--over an eight-possession stretch, the Magic missed all their shot attempts and scored just two points, enabling the Pacers to take a five-point edge--Orlando came roaring back, with Fournier's three-pointer at the 7:50 mark knotting the score at 78. Frye followed up that bucket with a triple of his own, his third of the night, to continue the run.

But that's when Orlando went ice cold for nearly six minutes, allowing Indiana to build an 11-point lead. That spell of offensive futility opened with Orlando committing four consecutive turnovers.

Ultimately, the Magic had a chance Monday to gut out a tough road win without Vucevic, arguably their best player. Instead, they lost their momentum at precisely the wrong time and dropped another game because of it. The season is young and the East remains weak, so there's still time for the Magic to develop the sort of edge they'll need to win games like this one.

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