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Indiana 112, Orlando 90: Magic fall flat against defensive-minded Pacers

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The Magic dropped their eighth straight game to the Pacers Friday in ugly fashion

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

Nothing seemed to come easy for the Magic Friday night at home. Playing their third game in four days, and coming off a lengthy five-game West Coast road-trip prior to that, Orlando dropped a contest in ugly fashion to the Indiana Pacers, 112-90.

Indiana played physical, out-hustled the Magic, and dictated the pace/tone of the game from the beginning of the contest. The Pacers held the Magic to 41% shooting from the floor and a putrid 24% from behind the arc (8-33 3PTA’s).

The Pacers were red-hot to begin the game, knocking down 8 of their first 12 shots of the contest. Bojan Bogdanovic was shooting straight right out of the gate, hitting his first four attempts (11 first quarter points) from the floor.

Despite Indiana’s offensive efficiency, the Magic were hanging in the game early due particularly to some solid work in the paint by Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic (on the glass and scoring in traffic).

At the 2:44 mark in the first quarter, the crowd inside the Amway Center let out a collective gasp as Vucevic hit the ground after appearing to come down on an Indiana player’s foot. Orlando’s starting center hobbled back to the locker room, and the Pacers pushed their lead over the Magic to double-digits.

Bogdanovic continued to cook in the second quarter, connecting on four more field goal attempts en route to 21 first half points. The Croatian forward hurt the Magic from distance, in the mid-range coming off high-screens, and even at the rim.

The Magic were uncharacteristically sloppy with the basketball in the first half, turning the ball over (which led to eleven Indiana points) and forcing difficult shots. Indiana is a top-5 defensive team in the NBA, and it showed against the Magic through two quarters as they took a 57-45 lead into halftime.

Orlando showed a little life to begin the second half, manufacturing energy on the defensive end, which helped fuel the team temporarily on offense. Gordon began the quarter ripping the ball out of Thaddeus Young’s hands, and then blocked Bogdanovic’s shot emphatically a few possessions later.

The Magic cut Indiana’s lead to four after a thunderous Gordon dunk, but quickly found themselves again down double-digits to the Pacers following a 15-2 Indiana mid-third quarter run.

Steve Clifford called timeout at the 3:54 mark in the third quarter with the Magic trailing by 17 points. You got the sense that the Magic needed to get something going (and quickly) coming out of that play stoppage or the game was going to get out of hand.

Well, the game got out of hand. Indiana extended their lead to 20+ points in the fourth quarter, sending the Magic packing for a three-game road trip (however, two of the games in Mexico are considered “home” games) with a sour taste in their collective mouths.

Bogdanovic ended up with 26 points in the contest to lead all scorers, most of that damage coming in the first half.

Vucevic (22 points and 10 rebounds) and Gordon (20 points and 14 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles in a losing effort.

The Magic haven’t had many of these types of games this year, but they sure had one tonight. You can chalk this one up to Orlando’s recent brutal schedule, or their likely fatigue (physical, mental, emotional, etc.).

Regardless, the show goes on. For the Magic, that means a trip to Dallas early next week, and then south of the border to Mexico after that.