Pacers 97 – Magic 90
[Ed note: I'd like to thank Tony Laurenzana, aka, Duke Dynamite, for filling in to write today's recap. Duke is a Pacers fanatic and has also written about the team for Pacers.com. You can follow him on Twitter @dukedynamite.]
After coming off their largest defeat that I’ve ever seen (well, since the Miami game back last month, I guess…), I thought the Pacers were going to mail in this game against Orlando in a nice little wrapped package. But much to my surprise, I was wrong. Way wrong.
1st Quarter Notes
The two teams went back and forth for the most part, and Indy actually didn’t get down big within the first four or five minutes of a game for once. Then, Jim O’Brien got called for a technical. And for the Magic, it started going downhill from there. Dwight Howard was called for his first two fouls within about 15 seconds of each other, forcing him out of the game early.
Roy Hibbert started the game and unlike the previous match up with Dwight Howard he didn’t split the majority of the minutes with Jeff Foster. As a matter of fact Coach O’Brien had about 35 minutes or so of Hibbert invested in this game and Roy took full advantage of his time, leading the Pacers to a 5-point first quarter lead while Howard spent his time the bench. Roy finished the first quarter with 12 points.
2nd Quarter Notes
In the start of the second quarter, the Magic brought Howard back and were able to pull within two points after a Pietrus 3-point shot, an Indy turnover and a few free throws. But the best thing the Magic had going for them in this quarter was Pietrus’ shooting and, because of him, they were able to go up by as much as 3 points.
AJ Price, as expected, was the first point guard off the bench to relieve Earl Watson. (In fact, AJ and Earl who were the only two point guards to get any time during the game, with even Luther Head manning the duties from time-to-time instead of TJ Ford, who got a DNP-CD). And Price, while still a little sporadic with his jumper, was able to help pull the Pacers back into the lead.
But what good is a lead if you can’t maintain it? Aside from getting straight blown out, that has been the Pacers’ biggest problem this season. Well, Roy came back into the game to help solidify the lead going into the half. He helped force 3 Dwight Howard turnovers and blocked his shot once before Dwight committed his third foul and had to head to the bench … again.
The Pacers ended the half up 45-39 on the strength of 18 first-half points from Hibbert and the Pacers ability to shut down Vince Carter, who had plenty of good looking shots, but couldn’t get anything to fall.
3rd Quarter Notes
The third quarter couldn’t have begun any better. Dwight was called for his fourth foul within the first 10 seconds as Roy made the one they call Superman look like a foul-prone prospect with little experience trying to guard a vet — instead of the other way around.
The Magic were able to keep it close, however, with Matt Barnes becoming red hot, even after a double-technical went against both him and Hibbert. Mike Dunleavy chucked up a couple of airballs before finally nailing a trey from the corner. The Pacers were able to regain a 6-point lead at the end of three.
4th Quarter Notes
The fourth quarter started like any other game where Indy is in the lead. Jason Williams and JJ Redick each hit a three in the opening possessions to tie the game at 68. Quickly … Pacers timeout. We’ve seen this before. The opposing team decides to show up to the game late, and the Pacers just curl up in the fetal position and decide it’s over from there.
But with two quick jumpers by Dahntay Jones and Mike Dunleavy gave Indy the lead again. The only downside to the run was that Hibbert, who somehow had no fouls coming into fourth, picked up four fouls in almost 3 minutes. Roy’s perfect game was in jeopardy and the Pacers were now in the penalty with a lot of time left to play.
Luckily, Dwight Howard couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn to save his life and the Magic were only 15 of 24 from the stripe as a team, which didn’t help them any down the stretch.
Brandon Rush also thought that the fourth quarter would be a good time to show up offensively and, along with a three by Watson and a couple of nice shots from Hibbert, Rush’s buckets helped the Pacers stretch their lead and, soon after, run away with the game. Dwight fouled out with about 2 minutes left and started getting involved with some of the fans taunting him. Considering there were only about 11,000 people in attendance, it was pretty loud in the Fieldhouse when he got number 6.
From there, the Pacers seemed a little cold both from the floor and the line, but they had already built up a sustainable lead so it didn’t ultimately matter. Wait, did I just say the Pacers could sustain a lead? Wow, check my temperature, I may be sick.
What’ya know? The Pacers beat the Magic, 97-9 0 and Roy Hibbert was the star of the game, dropping a career-high 26 points. To think going into this game that Roy was going to shut down the NBA’s premier center, this game should have been a sell-out. That on top of Carter basically being a no-show.
It doesn’t erase the 40-plus point blowout from the Knicks game, but it left me a lot to smile about leaving the Fieldhouse.
Pacers Beat Reigning East Champs: By The Numbers