The talk was that the Orlando Magic wanted to beat the Indiana Pacers for their coach, Frank Vogel, who was fired by Indiana after last season. A win would likely knock the Pacers out of the playoffs and there is no question Vogel relished the chance to achieve that result.
Orlando looked like they wanted to run and gun on Saturday, which they did pretty well. The bad news was the Pacers ran, gunned and penetrated better than the Magic and came away with a 127-112 victory at the Amway Center.
Give the Pacers credit for executing well, but the Magic offered little resistance on the defensive end. Indiana scored 64 points in the paint, helping them shoot 59 percent for the game. Orlando also gave up too many open three-point attempts with Indiana making 11 of 22.
“I am very disappointed by the performance of our guys,” said Vogel. “We were terrible on the defensive end. They were challenged in every timeout and at halftime and in every huddle to raise their level.”
The admonitions, pleas or demands fell on deaf ears. While Orlando was able to cut a 14-point lead to 84-80 late in the third period, the Pacers quickly built that margin back to 20 early in the fourth quarter. The game was basically over at that point.
All-star Paul George led all scorers with 37 points, scoring from all angles on the floor. Pacer center Miles Turner had 20.
For their part, the Magic shot 49 percent and made 14 of 30 three-point attempts. Terrance Ross had a spectacular offensive game with a season-high 29 points and Evan Fournier had 23.
Saturday’s win capped a 4-0 season sweep for the Pacers over Orlando. The Magic did not come within 10 points in any of the four games.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t play well against that team all year,” said Vogel. “It was one of those things.”
With the victory, Indiana won their third straight, moving them into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. They are battling with Chicago and Miami for the seventh and eighth positions.
The Magic get another chance to play spoiler on Monday when they go to Chicago to face the Bulls. Chicago will be in a bad mood after dropping a 107-106 cliff hanger to the woeful Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.
The season ends on Wednesday, when the Magic can then begin looking at the changes needed to become a playoff contender themselves.
“I look forward to the days when we’re kicking other teams’ butts,” Vogel said.