The Orlando Magic suffered a heartbreaking loss at home Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers. After leading by as many as 18 points in the second half, Orlando dropped their first game after the All-Star break to Indiana 122-114 in overtime.
Malcolm Brogdon, who missed the first of two consecutive Indiana-Orlando contests at the Amway Center, scored a game-high 31 points (8-18 FGA’s, 12-15 FTA’s), grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists.
Indiana marched to the free throw line 35 times Wednesday night, buoyed by 28 fouls charged to the Magic.
Orlando’s twin towers, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr., were having their way with the Pacers in the paint early on. Bamba made his first four shots from the field, scoring 11 points within the game’s first four minutes. And Carter Jr. was a dominant presence in the paint, backing down Indiana defenders and burying them under the rim. Orlando’s starting center rose up for numerous thunderous dunks in the paint during the opening period against the Pacers.
BULLY BALL— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 3, 2022
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An 8-0 early first quarter Magic run forced the Pacers to burn a timeout, but that didn’t slow Orlando down. Orlando buried five three-point field goals in the opening quarter. Similarly to Monday night, the ball was whipping around the floor on offense. The Magic pushed their lead to double-digits following a step-back three-point field goal by Franz Wagner on a possession where the ball zipped around the perimeter, touching all five Orlando players before the shot attempt.
step-back Franz— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 3, 2022
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Markelle Fultz, in his second game back after missing over a year recovering from a devastating ACL injury, picked up right where he left off Monday night when he entered the game in the first quarter Wednesday. The former number one overall pick’s ability to play with pace, change speeds with the ball in his hands, and shake defenders off the dribble was on full display in the first half against the Pacers.
Fultz scored 7 of his 11 points in six minutes spread out across the first and second quarters (and distributed three assists as well). Clearly on a restriction, Fultz played 15 minutes for the second consecutive game.
Markelle Fultz spins and dimes it to Wendell Carter Jr. for the slam!— NBA (@NBA) March 3, 2022
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The Pacers settled down and found their groove in the second quarter, not allowing Orlando to run away from them. Indiana was able to hurt the home team in two key areas: on the glass, and shooting from the perimeter.
Indiana shot 55 percent (5-9 3PTA’s) from beyond the arc in the second quarter, but a couple of those made field goals were made possible because the Pacers were keeping plays alive on the offensive glass. Indiana grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the first half Wednesday against the Magic (second chance points in the first half: Indiana 11, Orlando 0), outrebounding Orlando 26-19 through the game’s first 24 minutes.
Orlando came out of intermission on a 15-5 run, pushing their lead back to double-digits. Wagner caught fire, scoring 12 points within the first five minutes of the second half (including two three-point field goals).
The Magic posted 22 of the first 30 points scored in the third quarter, forcing an Indiana timeout with 4:00 minutes remaining in the period. Orlando’s offense was once again firing on all cylinders, with the ball moving side-to-side and the pace charged all the way back up.
Pushing the pace!— Bally Sports Florida: Magic (@BallyMagic) March 3, 2022
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Orlando took a 15-point lead to the four quarter after outscoring Indiana 29-18 in the third. However, Indiana began the fourth quarter on an 16-6 run, drawing the game within two possessions - and forcing Mosley to call a quick timeout in an attempt to slow momentum down a bit.
Curiously enough, the Magic played those first five minutes of the fourth quarter without either Carter Jr. nor Bamba on the floor. Instead, Mosley opted to go with seldom used Admiral Schofield. After the game, when asked about the group that was on the floor to begin the quarter, Mosely said that he was trying to get “a look at different lineups”.
Tyrese Haliburton knocked-down a three-point field goal from the left wing with 4:58 remaining, which gave Indiana their first lead of the game
The Magic were able to draw even thanks to a huge offensive rebound from Bamba (off a missed free throw), with the possession ending following another Bamba offensive rebound and tip-in off the glass.
Moments later, Wagner helped the Magic reclaim the lead, converting a left-handed layup in the lane. But the lead was short-lived, as another Haliburton three-point field goal pushed the Pacers back ahead.
A crafty Jalen Suggs driving reverse layup brought Orlando back within one point, which left the door cracked open. That crack became a gaping hole when Brogdon missed the back-end of two free throws. Cole Anthony grabbed the defensive board off the missed free throw, pushed the ball up the court, and attempted to get into the paint before Indiana could setup their defense.
Anthony’s runner drew a lot of iron, but Bamba was there once again to tip-in the offensive rebound, tying the game with 5.8 seconds remaining and ultimately rewarding the Amway Center faithful with some “free basketball”.
After bleeding an 18-point lead away, the Magic were able to respond enough to force an overtime period, but it wasn’t meant to be.
A final Haliburton three-point field goal put the nail in Orlando’s coffin (in overtime). And it came off an Indiana offensive rebound, something the Magic weren’t able to correct throughout the evening. The Pacers outscored the Magic 46-23 in the fourth quarter and overtime (combined).
Haliburton finished with 21 points (7-16 FGA’s), 6 assists, and 3 steals in 40 minutes. Second-year big Jalen Smith recorded a double-double off Indiana’s bench, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
Wagner led the way for the Magic with 28 points (10-18 FGA’s), 6 rebounds, and 2 steals in 36 minutes. Bamba finished with 19 points (8-9 FGA’s) and 12 rebounds.
Orlando’s starting backcourt suffered through a rough shooting night, as Anthony and Suggs combined to shoot 10 for 28 from the field (0 for 8 on three-point field goal attempts).
Continuing to play quality basketball with a big lead is not something the Magic have been accustomed to experiencing this season, so chalk Wednesday night up to another learning opportunity.
Class will be back in session for Orlando this Friday night in Toronto, a game that was postponed earlier in the season and rescheduled for this week due to COVID-19 complications.