With one eye on Heat, Pacers pounce on Magic, win easy
ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are not many nights in the NBA where things work out exactly how a team thinks they will, but the Indiana Pacers enjoyed one of those nights against the Orlando Magic.
And it couldn't have come at a better time.
The Pacers hammered the Magic early and often, scoring a 115-86 win over a team they've struggled with in the regular season the last few years.
Paul George scored 25 points and five other Pacers hit double figures in game where 12 of their 13 players scored and no starter was needed for more than 28 minutes. That should help with a Sunday game coming at Miami against the Eastern Conference leading Heat, who Indiana has beaten twice this season.
"This was a great set up for us to prepare for Sunday," George said. "Put the game away early, give our guys some time to get off their legs and let the bench play things out.
"We were the last team to beat them (Miami) so everybody's going to be up for that game."
Reserves Tyler Hansbrough had 18 points and D.J. Augustin added 14 points and eight assists for the Pacers, who outscored the Magic 50-26 in the paint and hit 11 of 19 3-pointers.
But the most impressive aspect of Indiana's effort was its defense, which smothered Magic shooters the entire game. The Pacers held Orlando to 39 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers that they turned into 30 points.
"We've got a pretty good defensive team," Pacers' Coach Frank Vogel. "We have guys at every position who can guard their man and then we have Roy Hibbert at the rim to protect us against any mishaps. That enables us to push up on perimeter players more than most teams are able to."
The Magic, who had hit a season-high 12 3-pointers in beating the Pacers earlier this season, were only 5 of 15 from behind the arc and never established any presence inside. Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 19 points and Nikolai Vucevic and Beno Udrih had 12 apiece.
However, the Magic never got into an offensive rhythm and allowed Indiana to coast at the other end. The Pacers shot 51.8 percent from the field, including 11 of 19 on three-pointers.
"We just didn't come out the right way," Vucevic said. "They jumped on us, played more aggressive at both ends and we just didn't respond.".
"I think they just tried to come in with a very physical presence," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn added. "The first play of the game was a post play, they converted on it and continued to go there the rest of the game."
Both teams started slowly, but the Magic were a little slower and lot sloppier. Orlando shot only 31 percent in the first quarter, committed six turnovers and gave up seven second-chance points.
Amazingly, the Magic trailed only 22-15, but that turned out to be as close as they'd come all night.
Indiana finally began to pull away behind Augustin, who came off the bench and scored 11 points and handed out four assists in the second period. Augustin put some continuity in the Pacers' offense, and they led 53-38 by halftime.
It didn't get much better for Orlando at the start the second half. Hibbert blocked the first two Magic shots, Lance Stephenson and Hibbert converted layups, and the Pacers were on their way to a prosperous 12 minutes.
George hit three straight 3-pointers -- no one was within five feet of him on any attempt. The Pacers pushed their lead to as many as 26, and all but one of their starters went to the bench at the end of the quarter with an 88-63 lead in hand.
The Magic agreed, putting five reserves out for the last 12 minutes, including seldom-used rookies Kyle O'Quinn and Doron Lamb. For the record, the Pacers subs won the quarter 27-23, giving them a clean sweep of all four quarters.
NOTES: Indiana had struggled against the Magic in regular-season games, losing nine of the last 10 and 15 of the last 17 before Friday. ... Vaughn, clearly looking for positives anywhere he can find them, saw a bright side to the Magic's 97-96 loss in Miami Wednesday. Orlando rallied from a 20-point second half deficit to pull ahead by 96-93 in the final minute, before losing. "Sometimes a painful loss like that just reiterates the fact that the things that got you back in the game, need to be there at the start of the game," Vaughn said. ... Indiana leads the NBA in field-goal percentage defense. Opponents were shooting just 41.5 percent against the Pacers before Friday. ... The Magic, who had a season-high 12 3-pointers in a 97-86 win over the Pacers earlier this year, hit two in the first 90 seconds of Friday's game. ... George was just 11 of 36 (30.8 percent) in his previous two games. ... Tobias Harris got his second start since joining the Magic at the trade deadline. The Magic have had 20 different starting lineups this season.
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