The Magic (16-37) beat the Indiana Pacers 93-92 Sunday night,
overcoming a 17-point, third-quarter deficit against the top team in
the Eastern Conference.
Two days earlier, the Magic overcame another 17-point, second-half
deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had the best record
in the Western Conference.
"What that means is that we have no excuses now," said rookie
reserve guard Victor Oladipo, who had 23 points and sparked the late
turnaround. "We have to play every night like we played tonight.
It's all about approach and energy. There is no reason why we can't
have that every night."
Indiana forward Paul George scored a game-high 27 points and added
seven assists, but he missed a heavily contested, 18-foot jumper
with one second remaining, capping a frantic finish for the Magic.
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Forward David West had 14 points and guard George Hill had 12.
The Magic got 19 points and a game-high 13 rebounds from center
Nikola Vucevic. Magic forward Tobias Harris added 13 points.
"Our guys earned it, and they deserved this one," Magic coach Jacque
Vaughn said. "It's about competing as hard as you can, and giving
yourself a chance. It's part of our growing as a team."
The Magic never trailed after Oladipo hit a jumper with 7:10
remaining for an 80-79 lead, but they barely survived the smothering
Pacers defense at the end.
They allowed Stephenson to score on a jump-ball breakaway with 16
seconds remaining — cutting their lead to one — then the Magic
called two timeouts before an inbounds turnover led to George's
"We talked about that (Magic win over Oklahoma City) before the
game, and that OKC was up by 17 points," West said. "We knew they
wouldn't give up. But they just played harder. They were the more
sound team down the stretch. They took control of the game late, and
I thought we got a little loose. They have guys capable of making
Oladipo sparked the fourth-quarter turnaround by scoring 12 points
in the first six minutes of the period, quickly erasing Indiana's
10-point lead. He started with a three-point play and followed with
a 3-point basket. He added three rebounds, two assists and a steal
in the final period before finishing with a free throw for the 93-90
lead. He was everywhere, it seemed.
"It was one of those streaks where the rim looks like a river, or
the sea, and you just keep shooting with confidence," Oladipo said.
"You feel like that, and you're playing with a lot of confidence."
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The Magic's biggest lead was 86-79 lead. In the fourth quarter, the
Magic shot 52.4 percent from the field against the best defensive
team in the NBA. The Pacers had beaten the Magic in Indianapolis
twice this season, by 19 and 10 points, respectively.
"Yes, they (Magic) play with a lot more confidence at home," Pacers
coach Frank Vogel said. "Their run (in the fourth) took control of
the game. Victor Oladipo is growing as a player, He was leading the
charge. You have to give him credit."
George, who had hit 5-of-8 shots from 3-point range, could have
changed the outcome with his final shot, which was contested.
"I didn't make the shot," he said. "I thought I got hit. I didn't
think I got hit up top, but I felt like Big Baby (Glen Davis)
finished through me on the shot. It is what it is."
Vucevic had nine points and seven rebounds in the third period, but
the Magic could not cut into the deficit. The Pacers led by as many
as 17 points in the third but only by 10 going into the final
The Pacers led 52-43 at halftime, riding a fast start by George, who
hit five of his six shots in the opening quarter.
Stephenson led everyone with 14 points in the first half and hit two
of his three shots from 3-point range.
The Magic made a 15-4 run midway through the first quarter for a
25-17 lead. Guard Jameer Nelson hit two 3-pointers to spark the
The Pacers regained the lead late in the first quarter, then limited
the Magic to just 15 points in the second quarter, building the
nine-point cushion at intermission. Vucevic had 10 points and four
rebounds by halftime.
NOTES: Pacers G Lance Stephenson returned to the lineup Sunday after
missing Friday's victory over the Portland Trail Blazers with a
lower back strain. In one game earlier this season against the
Magic, Stephenson had 12 rebounds and was instrumental in the
Pacers' crushing the Magic on the boards. ... As much as any team,
the Magic are well aware of how good the Pacers are defensively. In
the two previous games against them, the Magic shot just 39.2
percent combined. ... Pacers coach Frank Vogel credits the mental
approach for why his team has been so good this season after losing
in the conference finals last spring to the Heat. "This group, I
think, is more focused than most teams," Vogel said. "They realize
how close we came last year. You might only get this close once in
your career. They know they're dealing with what could be a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." ... G Jameer Nelson, the subject of
considerable trade talk, is just the second player in Magic history
to wear the team jersey for 10 seasons. ... The Magic won for the
sixth time in their past seven home games, but they have the
league's worst road record (3-23).
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