Sunday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers will go down as one the Orlando Magic know they should have won. Instead, they came up on the short end of a 105-102 decision at the Amway Center.
The Magic came out playing aggressive, Scott Skiles-like defense. Unfortunately they did not shoot well early on.
While the Pacers shot 50 percent from the field, the Magic defense harassed Indiana into 21 turnovers, setting up opportunities for easy baskets. Indiana had 16 of those turnovers in the first half, yet Orlando could manage only a 47-47 tie at the break.
A major reason for the Pacers staying as close as they were was the Magic’s inability to convert at the rim. Numerous shots were either missed up close or blocked leaving players and coaches alike clearly frustrated.
Both teams played demonstrably better in the second half. The Magic’s biggest lead was six points, 67-61, on an Evan Fournier three-pointer with 5:22 left in the period. The Pacers fought back to take an 80-79 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Indiana gave the Magic chances to win by shooting only nine for 25 in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Magic, they missed six free throws in the period, including one by Nikola Vucevic with 30 seconds remaining that would have tied the game.
Victor Oladipo badly missed a three-pointer with two seconds left that would have tied the game. Oladipo, the Orlando bench and the partisan Magic crowd thought he was fouled, but there was no call and Indiana had the victory.
“We just made too many little mistakes, especially defensively,” said Oladipo. “There were too many missed free throws; those are the two main things.”
Fournier led the Magic with 23 points, while Vucevic added 19 and Oladipo chipped in 17. In his second game for the Magic, Brandon Jennings again added a spark off the bench, scoring 12 points and dishing out 7 assists in 25 minutes.
Indiana was led by Monta Ellis with 21 points and Paul George with 20.
With the loss, Orlando fell to 24-30 on the season. They travel to Philadelphia for a Tuesday night contest against the 76ers, who have an 8-46 record.