Three-point shots are worth more than two-point shots. Normally I wouldn’t feel the need to point that out, but I’m not sure anyone has informed the Indiana Pacers, who have now lost 12 of their past 15 games.
Because tonight the Orlando Magic made 16 of the 34 triples they took (47.1%) on their way to to a 15-point win that felt more like a shutout. It would be one thing if the Magic weren’t the Magic and didn’t lead the league with an average of 25.2 attempts from behind the arc per game. And it also wouldn’t be that big of a deal if, like the Pacers, the Magic were a below average three-point shooting team that just liked to chuck a ton up at the rim anyway.
But Orlando is a team that shoots 37.2% from long-range and has made more threes this year than any other team in the NBA — largely because Dwight Howard is the focal point of the offense and forces opposing defenses to collapse. You would think Indiana would be prepared to play a team built like this since they have similarly attempted to mold themselves into a team that makes their hay on defense, features a big man prominently on offense and tries to get up a lot of three-pointers.
On the contrary, they seemed blindsided and were never in this game after the first quarter. Worse still is that this continues the trend of deplorable team defense we have seen throughout the team’s now-six-game losing streak.
They have given up at least 97 points in each of the past six outings, a stretch of futility during which they have allowed an average of 108.7 points per game. The FG% defense isn’t any better with an average FG% allowed of 49.0%. The one good showing came up in Portland, where they held the Blazers to 42.2%, but the other five squads have all shot north of 45% — with four of them finishing above the 50% mark. (The worst was the 54.3% allowed to the Clippers.) And they haven’t been much better protecting the perimeter, giving up at least 10 threes in each of their last three games.
For Pacers fans tired of watching all the December losses in which the Pacers simply couldn’t score, at least now you get to watch them lose because they can’t stop anyone. It at least breaks up the monotony. Gotta look for those silver linings, ya know.
Danny Granger finished with 29 points on horrible shooting if you care, which you shouldn’t. (He did make it to the line 13 times, which was nice and his fifth time this year with double-digit FT attempts. Baby steps down the path back to some semblance of efficiency.) And Darren Collison actually did play pretty well offensively, scoring 21 points on 10-for-18 shooting. Lastly, Paul George played 32 minutes. He wasn’t good, wasn’t bad, but he got some time and that’s probably the most important thing that happened for him tonight.
As far as Orlando’s individual numbers, it was a an equal opportunity ass-kicking. The Magic had six guys score in double figures, and all eight players who played more than 3 minutes put up at least 8 points.
So when I say they didn’t stop anybody tonight, I mean that literally.
Everybody got theirs.