Following a 20-point rally against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, the Orlando Magic returned to action in Indiana to take on the Pacers in their first of a three game road trip. Despite a good start early, the Magic were completely outmatched by the Eastern Conference's hottest team, falling to the Pacers 118-86.
After playing shorthanded in their last two games, the Magic got good news with the returns of Nikola Vucevic, Willie Green and Luke Ridnour. Vucevic, who sat out the team's wins against the Sacramento Kings and Celtics with a sore left ankle, was inserted back into the starting lineup along side Dewayne Dedmon. Dedmon, making his fourth straight start, got the Magic going early with a quick six points and four rebounds in the opening minutes. Early on, things were running smoothly for the Magic on both ends of the floor. However, after the Pacers inserted Rodney Stuckey, things began to go downhill for the Magic. Stuckey scored 16 of the Pacers final 17 in the quarter, helping them cut the Magic's eight point lead back down to two. Tobias Harris got things going for the Magic early, leading the team with eight in the opening 12 minutes.
Usually the Magic's issues some in the second half, but against the Pecers, they came in the second quarter. Spanning the final few minutes of the first quarter, and the opening three minutes of the second, the Pacers went on an 18-0 run to turn the tides and grab a 10 point lead. Indiana seemingly couldn't miss, hitting shot after shot as their lead slow grew to as many as 14. Their 10 three-pointers made put them on pace to shatter their previous season high of 13, with Stuckey and C.J. Watson combining for eight off of the bench. Stuckey's hot shooting continued, pushing his total to 25 in the opening half on 9-of-11 shooting. Harris was the only Magic man able to push his total into double digits in the half, finishing with 16 heading into the half.
Out of halftime, things continued going poorly for the Magic. Despite getting a few stops and cutting the Pacers lead to single digits, they were unable to get consistent stops and consistently score on their end. Indiana also continued raining down three's, pushing their total for the game to 15, just two off their franchise record. Victor Oladipo, who came in on an absolute tear, continued to struggle to find his offense, scoring four points in the quarter, all at the free throw line. Harris, along with Elfrid Payton, did whatever they could to try and help the Magic claw their way back, combining for 15 of Orlando's 23 in the quarter. Stuckey continued to shoot the ball at an absurdly high rate, pushing his total to a season high 32.
Down 16, things looked bleak for the Magic heading into the fourth. The Pacers continued to make every shot, with the Magic struggling to get anything going consistently on their offensive end. With a game in Milwaukee tomorrow night, coach James Borrego emptied the bench about midway through the quarter, finally waiving the white flag.
Stuckey led all scorers, finishing with a season high 34 on the night. Starting in place of the injured C.J. Miles, former Magic killer Damjan Rudez finished with 17 points. Luis Scola scored 15 off the bench, with starting point guard George Hill scoring 13. Watson rounded out the group of Pacers in double figures, finishing with 12.
Four Magic players finished in double figures, led by Harris' 22. Payton finished with 14 points and six assists, with backcourt mate Victor Oladipo finishing with 13. in his first game back from injury, Vucevic finished with 13 points and a mere five rebounds.