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Magic lose 98-88 to Pacers, drop to 8-16 at home

Home court woes again plague the Magic as their playoff hopes quickly fade

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was an uneventful 98-88 loss for the Orlando Magic and one that brought to bear a list of season-long issues. The Magic struggled to rebound from an emotional loss on Monday and came out flat to start the game.

Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton hit a 20-foot jumper just over a minute into the game to give the Magic a 4-3 lead. That would be the last time the home team led – or even tied in this one.

In the first quarter, they allowed a scorching 60 percent shooting by the Pacers while failing to crack 40 percent themselves. Due to that early deficit, it took until late in the third quarter for the Magic to get back within striking distance.

Even then, after cutting the Pacer lead to just four on a C.J. Watson jumper, the outcome was hardly in question. On the next trip down, the Pacers’ Rodney Stuckey would answer with a basket of his own to regain control.

The Pacers played a sloppy game by their own standards, but would still have enough firepower to close the deal. Paul George, Indiana’s newly-minted All-Star, shot an underwhelming 3-for-14 from the floor for just eight points. That total marks his lowest scoring performance since March of last year.

Orlando failed to capitalize on the failings of Indiana’s superman by shooting 4-of-17 in the fourth quarter as a team. Just when it looked like Indiana was due for a Magic run, the home team faltered in a major way.

It was Glenn Robinson III and CJ Miles, not George that slammed the door on the Magic as both teams lethargically trotted to the finish line. Those two would combine for 10 points and four of the Pacers’ six makes in the fourth quarter.

“It is great for them (teammates) to have my back,” said George, “for them to take the load off of me and kind of seal this game for us.”

For the Magic, the game felt like a culmination of a frustrating year on the hardwood. The home loss, the lack of shooting consistency and the lack of cohesion sunk any hopes of victory against a very beatable team.

“It’s been one of those years where it’s just one or two things,” said Magic coach Frank Vogel, “we don’t have a large margin of error and sometimes it’s turnovers, sometimes it’s poor defense, sometimes it’s moving the basketball and getting a lot of good looks that we weren’t able to knock down.”

Before the game, Vogel said that he had expected the team to be as far above .500 as they currently are under it at this point in the season. The Magic continue to be resolute in their goal of the playoffs, but time is running out. With only 31 games left on the schedule, and the team now ahead of only the Nets in the standings, it may be time to set new internal expectations for the season.

The Orlando Magic (19-32) will look to rectify their home woes on Friday, as the Toronto Raptors (30-20) come to the Amway Center. In their last meeting on Sunday, the Magic earned arguably their best win of the year as they took down the Raptors 1114-113 in Toronto.