Two nights made a stark difference for the Orlando Magic.
After controlling their game against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, they saw the Indiana Pacers do the same to them on Tuesday. Leading by as many as 26 throughout, the Pacers led from the opening buzzer, knocking off the Magic
The Pacers, led by the red hot T.J. Warren, came out firing, jumping out to a quick 18-3 lead early in the opening quarter. Warren, who came into Tuesday’s contest averaging over 43 points per game since the leagues restart, scorched anyone the Magic threw at him, scoring 17 of the Pacers 43 first quarter points, while not missing a shot.
Warren’s incredibly hot start rubbed off on his teammates, who combined to knock down seven of their 12 attempts from beyond the arc in the opening quarter. Whenever a Pacer shot the ball, it seemed destined to find the bottom of the net.
The Magic, who played one of their most complete games of the entire season Sunday night, lacked energy from the start, and their inability to make even the easiest of shots began to wear on them. While they began to hit their stride some in the second quarter, they still struggled on the defensive end, allowing the Pacers to score 71 points in the opening half, the most a team has scored against the Magic in a single half this season.
Out of halftime, the Magic really began to show some signs of life on both ends of the floor.
Their defense was much more crisp with their rotations, and they were making things more difficult on the Pacers, while shots were falling more on the offensive end. They were able to get the lead down to 13, prompting a Pacers timeout. Out of that timeout, coupled with Aaron Gordon picking up his fourth personal foul, seemingly ended the Magic’s hopes of making a full comeback.
With Gordon glued to the bench, the Pacers pushed their lead back up around 20 for much of the quarter, and never looked back.
While the Magic did cut the lead down to as few as nine late in the fourth, every time they would cut the Pacer lead down to 12-14 points, Indiana would answer, pushing it back up to 18 in the blink of an eye.
Orlando’s inability to take care of the ball — they turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 23 Indiana points — also killed the Magic all night. It kept them out of their flow offensively, and gave the Pacers the opportunity to get out and scored before the Magic defense could be set. They also struggled with ball movement, notching just 21 assists on 39 made baskets.
The injury bug once again hit the Magic as well, with James Ennis — who was able to return — suffering a dislocated finger in the opening half, and Michael Carter-Williams missing the second half with a sore left foot.
All five Pacer starters finished in double figures, led by Warren’s game-high 32. Myles Turner finished the night with 21, and knocked down a pair of key late three-pointers to finally burry the Magic. Victor Oladipo added 13 against his former team, with Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday, and T.J. McConnell all finishing with 12.
Nikola Vucevic notched another double-double, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic. Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross both added 20 apiece, with Ennis, finished with 12.
The Magic have a quick turnaround, playing their lone back-to-back on Wednesday night against the red hot Toronto Raptors. After Brooklyn’s upset win against the Milwaukee Bucks earlier Tuesday afternoon, the Magic will need a victory against the Raptors if they want to get back even with the Nets for the seventh spot.