Pacers defeat Magic 117-89

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Courtesy of Orlando Magic

Jameer Nelson had 10 points in the tough loss to the Indiana Pacers.

ORLANDO – Paul George had 25 points and five rebounds as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Orlando Magic 117-89 on Friday, March 8 in front of 16,515 fans at the Amway Center.

George scored 18 of his 25 points in the third quarter and sat out the entire fourth to give way to some of the reserves on Indiana’s roster.

“We tried to put it away early,” said George after the game. “And give our guys some time to get off their legs and get the bench in and let them play it out. It was a great setup for us to prepare for Sunday.”

Arron Afflalo led all Magic scorers with 19 points, eight of which came in the third quarter, while Nikola Vucevic and Beno Udrih each had 12 for Orlando.

Tobias Harris, who was making his first start of the season for the Magic, had seven points and eight rebounds while committing five fouls in 21:22 minutes on the floor.

“I wanted to get a sense of Tobias. It’s different playing against first unit guys and second unit guys,” said Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn on inserting Harris into the starting lineup. “It’s only one way to find out if that’s something that’s productive for our lineup.”

The Pacers used a 16-4 run midway through the second quarter to extend their lead to 49-31 with three minutes remaining in the first half.

Orlando went into the locker room at halftime trailing Indiana 53-38, while shooting 33.3% from the floor compared to the Pacers’ 52.3% shooting percentage after the first half.

“We just didn’t come out the right way,” said Vucevic after the game. “Tonight, they jumped on us, they played aggressive on both ends and we didn’t respond.”

Indiana’s two leading scorers at the halftime, D.J. Augustin with 11 and Tyler Hansbrough with 10, were coming off the bench for the Pacers.

The Magic were outscored 23-12 during the first half of the third quarter, as the Pacers extended their lead to 24 points with five minutes left in the quarter. George’s 18 points in the third quarter accounted for more than half of Indiana’s 35 third quarter points.

“He’s developing into a great player,” said Jameer Nelson about the Pacers’ leading scorer. “Paul George did a great job of shooting the ball when he was open and making his shots.”

Orlando started the fourth quarter trailing 88-63, while being outscored 40-18 in the paint during the first three quarters of play.

“That’s just a very physical team,” said Vaughn of the Pacers. “They tried to establish themselves in the post. They tried to establish getting the ball inside and collapsing our defense and see how we responded.”

Indiana would go on to outscore Orlando 27-23 during the final quarter of play and finished the game with 50 points in the paint, as opposed to the 26 that the Magic had.

Hansbrough finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Pacers, while teammate Lance Stephenson added 10 points and six rebounds of his own.

“I think Hansbrough came into the game and gave them some great minutes also off the bench,” said Vaughn after the game.

With the loss on Friday, Orlando’s record falls to 17-46 for the season. The Magic are now 5-33 in their last 38 games, while also riding a season-high seven-game home losing streak.

The Magic have Saturday off before returning to the Amway on Sunday, March 10 to face the Philadelphia 76ers at 6:00 p.m. Orlando is 1-1 on the season against Philadelphia.