Although it is too late to make the NBA Playoffs, the Orlando Magic are rolling. With Thursday night’s 114-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Orlando has now won three consecutive games by at least 20 points. This game was the first rout on the road.
Despite the fact the Pacers are trying to hang onto the eighth and final playoff spot, it was the Magic who were aggressive. Orlando shared the ball and got open looks at the basket, helping them shoot 53 percent for the game.
Meanwhile, the Magic defense got after Indiana, many times forcing them to settle for jump shots, which they were not making with any regularity. The Pacers shot only 42 percent.
After the Magic took a 33-28 lead after the first quarter, they eventually increased the margin to 55-43 on an Elfrid Payton four-footer with 2:55 remaining in the half. Indiana scored the last five points in the half to narrow the halftime deficit to 57-51.
Indiana tied the game at 62, but Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier led a charge that saw the Magic extend their lead to 89-79 after three quarters. Vucevic was making his return to the lineup after missing the last 13 games.
Orlando dominated the fourth quarter. Victor Oladipo drilled a three-pointer with 4:13 remaining that pushed the lead to 104-87. The Magic then cruised the rest of the way to the victory.
After missing three and one-half weeks, Vucevic came off the bench on Thursday. He had a spectacular return, scoring 24 points for the Magic on 12 of 15 shooting. Fournier had 25 while Oladipo, the former Indiana University star, added 18.
“The first half I felt a little bit sluggish, a little bit slow out there, which was normal, which was what I was expecting,” said Vucevic. “I was just trying to find my way, get a feel for the game. When I was out there, I was just trying to do what I can do to help the team.”
All-Star Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points, and Monta Ellis had 13. Nineteen turnovers also hurt the Pacers’ cause.
The Magic improved to 32-43 on the season and 12-26 on the road. After the game, they boarded a plane for Milwaukee where they will take on the Bucks on Friday. Of the two meetings so far this season, both teams have won on their home court.