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Orlando’s defense falters again, Pacers blow them out 127-112

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The offense was pretty good by Orlando’s standards, but it meant nothing when there was no defense to be had.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

The first quarter was one of those bizarre shootouts the Magic seem to get wrapped up in at the start of a game every now and then. For the Magic’s part, they shot 6-7 from deep, including three consecutive triples from Terrence Ross to give the Magic an early 9-4 lead. Aaron Gordon also added 9 points of his own for the Magic, who assisted on 10 of their 14 baskets in the quarter. The Pacers came back at them with equal force, using 7-7 free throw shooting and 2-3 makes from distance to fuel their own offensive outburst. It was clear right from the get-go that the Magic were going to have a hard time containing George early, and he led all scorers with 10 in the first, and the Pacers took a 39-38 lead.

Like many of these early shootouts, however, the Magic were unable to maintain the scoring momentum on their end, while simultaneously failing to find any defense to contain the other team. A big part of that problem: Paul George, continuing to smoke the Magic. He revealed a critical weakness of the Magic’s small-ball scheme, their inability to use Gordon to contain him since it would have required defending Thaddeus Young with either Fournier or Ross (a problem exacerbated by Jeff Green sitting the rest of the season, leaving the Magic without a true PF backup). George had 22 at halftime for the Pacers, who led 68-59 at the half.

The Magic gave up 5 quick points to go down by 14, but from there they finally put together a few stops, which enabled them to slowly whittle the score down. At one point, Indiana was shooting 5-14 in the third, and following three free throws from Ross after a foul on a 3-point attempt, the Magic had it all the way down to 4. Ross continued his hot night shooting the ball, adding another 8 in the third, much of that during the comeback effort. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Magic would get the rest of the game, thanks to a 16-4 Pacer run to close out the third. While George continued his reign of destruction, the rest of the Pacers got involved too, and the Magic were unable to contain any of them thanks to their inability to prevent dribble penetration.

Orlando showed a little life in the fourth trying to come back from down 98-82, mostly on the back of Ross’s scoring, but George matched Ross’s shooting, and then some. Orlando got as close as 12 in the fourth, but at that point in the game it was too late, and the Pacers ran the score right back up.