Indiana Pacers keep card up their sleeve, defeat Orlando Magic


Not having Victor Oladipo or Domantas Sabonis proved no problem for the Indiana Pacers as they beat down the Orlando Magic in an impressive road victory

The Indiana Pacers are now Bojan Bogdanovic‘s team now. Accept it. The Orlando Magic were forced to accept the fact they weren’t defending their home court on Friday when Bogey and a less than healthy Indiana team came to town.

Missing your best player makes beating any team a tougher task, but missing two of them makes pulling off a road win anything but easy. But without Victor Oladipo or Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers did just that.

Bojan Bogdanovic’s consistency this season is keeping Indiana on pace while Oladipo is down and their star free agent signing continues to underperform. His 26 points — 21 of which came in the first half — set the tone for the game. Bojan put down a perfect 10 points in the first quarter on 4 of 4 shooting from the floor (and a free throw) as the Magic kept close.

But after the hype of playing at home wanned for the Magic and the Pacers bench unit pushed the lead into double digits in the second quarter. While the starters were resting, the reserves went 6 for 10 from the field and kept Orlando away from any easy baskets. The Magic went 7 for 20 from the floor as the Pacers took a 12 point lead into the half.

The second half felt more like a formality than anything else as the Pacers only briefly let the lead dip into single digits in the third quarter before letting Orlando know this wasn’t their night.

90. 38. 112. 100. Final

Bojan Bogdanovic 2.0

One reason Bojan Bogdanovic is more consistent this season — though perception warped reality last season — is the fact he’s actually taking fewer 3-pointers. But it isn’t just that he is taking fewer of them, he is committing to finishing the play. He cut his passes on drives nearly in half and the added confidence in himself led to a 5 percent increase in his field goal percentage.

Sometimes the NBA isn’t as simple as “Do a thing you do well more” but in this case, part of his added scoring threat comes from being more likely to drive and shoot. And by forcing opponents to back off him a little, his 3-point shooting is up 10 percent. He’s creating his own space.

The Pacers bench mob

The Pacers should beat the Orlando Magic in most cases, but without two of their better players, they need the bench to step up more than usual. They did just that against the Magic and outscored their counterpart 49-32. They out-rebounded, out-shot, and simply outplayed their counterparts despite adding two players into the mix.

Kyle O’Quinn and T.J. Leaf saw more time with Sabonis fighting food poisoning, and both made a positive impact. O’Quinn put down a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) while Leaf put up a respectable line of 8 points and 6 rebounds. In O’Quinn’s case, he did exactly what the Pacers asked him to do when they signed him: Be ready to play meaningful minutes with little to no warning. O’Quinn is clearly a consummate professional.

Please start using the bench more in blowouts, Nate

There are legitimate and illegitimate critiques of Nate McMillan, but one that stands the test of time is his hesitance to unload the bench as games get out of hand. While it hardly seemed like the starters were being worn out, there really was no reason that the deep bench didn’t enter the game sooner.

It wasn’t until there were fewer than four minutes left that Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner entered the game. While I don’t think a minute or two in a few blowouts is going to change the course of Indiana Pacers history, it would be nice to find out if Indiana’s rookies and sophomores could handle NBA minutes in some fashion.

DARREN COLLISON. C+. Only 2 points for DC, but 8 assists and 0 turnovers is great work from a point guard. He had some great pick and pops with Myles Turner.. PG. Indiana

Indiana. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC. A+. 26 points on 18 shots, and +28. Bojan has stepped up remarkably in Vic’s absence and was amazing in this game.. SF

A. 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists were just another night for Thad. More importantly, he played remarkable defense on Aaron Gordon all night. Superb game from Thad.. PF. Indiana. THADDEUS YOUNG

B -. 10 points and 6 rebounds is a fine game from Turner, especially when he is hitting jumpers. He had trouble containing Nikola Vucevic on the defensive end, though.. C. Indiana. MYLES TURNER

C-. 11/3/3 seems fine, but 2/8 shooting and 3 turnovers are blah. Reke is going through an incredibly tough stretch.. SG. Indiana. TYREKE EVANS

A. Cory Joseph ran around like a maniac in this game, disrupting passing lanes and getting to the rim at will. He played great D and added 15 points. This was an excellent game for CoJo.. PG. Indiana. CORY JOSEPH

It seems some of the magic from McDermott’s road trip is gone. He only had 7 points, but he actually played okay defense and spaced the floor for his teammates.. SF. Indiana. DOUG MCDERMOTT. B

A+. 12/10/2 from a third-string center is incredible. O’Quinn was great in Sabonis absence, he has to be the best third center in the league.. C. Indiana. KYLE O’QUINN

TJ LEAF. C. 8 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes for Leaf. It was good to see him play that much, but overall he looked lost at times.. PF. Indiana

PG. Indiana. AARON HOLIDAY. B. 7/7/3 for Holiday. He is a great rebounder for someone of his short stature, and he was useful in this game. He continues to be a great story.

C -. 0/2 for Sumner, who didn’t quite look right in his 3 minutes. Its good to see him play though, he needs to get these stretches after his promising preseason.. SG. Indiana. EDMOND SUMNER

ALIZE JOHNSON. C. It was great to see Alize Johnson get playing time, as he has been great for the Mad Ants. He didn’t do much of anything, though.. PF. Indiana

Next. Is Ike Anigbogu figuring it out this year?. dark

The Indiana Pacers take on the Sacramento Kings at home tonight. They will try to get revenge for last Saturday’s loss.