(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – The Indiana Pacers (7-5 | 5-3) entered Sunday’s game with one blowout loss in the first 11 games of the season and left the game with two blowout losses. The Orlando Magic (8-5 | 4-4) dominated the Pacers from start to finish with a resounding 128-116 victory.
Head Coach Rick Carlisle was worried about how his team would look after four days off and his worries were warranted. Coming into this evening’s game, the fewest points the Pacers have scored in the first quarter was 27 points on three separate occasions. The main reason why the Pacers struggled scoring was because they couldn’t take care of the basketball. Entering the game, Indiana was third in the association averaging 12.8 turnovers a game. In the first quarter, they turned it over seven times. Additionally, Orlando came into the game scoring the third fewest points per game. On Wednesday, they scored 96 points in their win over the Bulls. After twelve minutes of play, the Magic scored 42 points. Orlando’s defense entered the game holding opponents to the second fewest points per game and ranked first in defensive efficiency. Indiana turned the ball over seven time that gave Orlando 10 points. Jalen Suggs led all scorers with nine points. Leading Indiana in scoring was Jalen Smith with six points. Indiana would trail 42-21 with their largest deficit being 23.
The second quarter would not get much better for Indiana in terms of getting defensive stops. Orlando shot 64% from the floor in the first quarter and followed it up with a 54% second quarter. The Magic also outrebounded the Pacers by five in the second quarter. Carlisle was searching for answers. Ben Sheppard, Jarace Walker, T.J. McConnell, and Jordan Nwora all saw the floor off the bench to try and get a spark. The one thing that the Pacers did was not turn the ball over as frequent, though they did turn it over a good amount (5). They struggled to force turnovers in the first half as well. Indiana’s defense didn’t force their first turnover until Jordan Nwora tied up Joe Ingles and won the tip with 42.1 seconds left. With Indiana’s defense forcing shooters off the three-point line, it’s resulted in the team giving up the most points in the paint per game (62.4). At halftime, Orlando scored 48 of their 78 points in the paint. Bruce Brown provided some life offensively for Indiana with eleven points in the second quarter. Paolo Banchero got going for Orlando with a dozen to lead them in scoring in the period. At halftime, Indiana would trail 78-44. Banchero and Suggs tied the game lead with 16 points at intermission. Brown’s eleven points paced Indiana.
At halftime, Tyrese Haliburton was scoreless after missing all seven of his shots in the first half. He opened the second half with eight straight points, but the Pacers defense wasn’t getting stops to cut into their 30+ point deficit. Indiana’s offense looked much better in the third quarter, but just couldn’t do enough defensively to make it possible to return despite scoring 34 points. Orlando’s Franz Wagner and Haliburton each scored 10 points in the quarter. Indiana held Orlando to zero three-pointers in the third period. Nwora provided some offense in the quarter for Indiana with nine points. There was one occasion where the Magic would extend their lead to forty points, but after 36-minutes of play, Indiana trailed 107-78.
Rick Carlisle emptied the bench to start the final quarter of play. Isaiah Jackson was the only player that hadn’t entered the game yet for the Pacers. Jackson would end up playing the entirety of the quarter. Only one starter played in the final twelve minutes, Bennedict Mathurin. The main takeaway in the final period was that it was nice to see extended run from the Pacers eighth overall pick. He registered a block, steal, and made some impressive shots. Another takeaway was Nwora’s aggressiveness offensively and defensively. He ended up leading the Pacers in scoring, but also had a pair of steals and brought down five boards. Indiana would make a late surge with their reserves and Mathurin on the floor because they forced turnovers. With 90 seconds to go, they cut the deficit down to 13 points and had a chance to cut it to ten, but Sheppard missed a three. When the clock hit zero, the Pacers would fall to the Magic 128-116.
TOP PERFORMERS: Paolo Banchero (24p, 3r, 2b, 1s), Franz Wagner (19p, 7r, 2s), Jalen Suggs (18p), and Jordan Nwora (19p, 5r, 2s). For tonight’s full box score, click here.
NOTES: Tyrese Haliburton’s 3 assists were the second fewest turnovers since becoming a Pacer.
NEXT UP: The Pacers will go on the road for their third group play game for the in-season tournament against the Atlanta Hawks. If the Pacers win that game, then they will clinch a berth to the knockout stage. Tip-off on Tuesday is set for 7:30pm eastern with the Kroger Pregame Show with Pat Boylan starting at 7pm eastern on 93.5/107.5 The Fan.
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