Poor 2nd half costs Magic in 109-102 loss to Pacers


Nick Ramos

Orlando Magic players Al-Farouq Aminu (2), Aaron Gordon (00), and Mo Bamba (5).

Nate Marrero, Sports Editor

Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Orlando Magic in the first half.

Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier each had 11 points, Terrance Ross had nine points in his first game back from right knee tendonitis, the Magic already made their game average of eight three-pointers and they led by as many as 13 points before going into halftime up 61-50. 

Then all of their momentum seemingly disappeared, as they got outscored by the Indiana Pacers 58-42 in the second half, and consequently lost 109-102. 

“I’m surprised,“ Magic head coach Steve Clifford said in the post-game press conference. “I thought we played a good energetic first half and we had nothing the last 24 minutes…I’m surprised and really disappointed.” 

The bench was one of the main reasons for Indiana’s turnaround in the second half. Indiana’s bench outscored 25-11, with Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell each having 10 points. 

“The two most important players in the game, in my opinion, were McConnell and McDermott,“ Clifford said of their performances. “We had talked about that in shootaround, they had been getting really good bench play and those two guys drilled us. “ 

Along with McConnell and McDermott giving a lift-off of the bench, Clifford noted that Indiana made a schematic change by running perimeter pick and rolls plus gave the Orlando defense fits in the 2nd half. 

Going into the 4th quarter, Orlando trailed 81-77. They found themselves down 87-85 after Aaron Gordon scored on a two-pointer and a subsequent free throw.

The Pacers responded with their second 12-0 run of the half to go up 99-85 with 4:58 left in the game. Orlando wouldn’t get any closer than six points for the rest of the game. 

Malcolm Brogdon led Indiana with 21 points plus eight assists. Domantas Sabonis had a double-double with 19 points and 16 rebounds. The Pacers have now won six out of their last seven games after losing three straight games to start the season. 

Evan Fournier led the Magic (3-7), with 22 points. Nikola Vucevic had a double-double with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and three assists. Vucevic passed Tracy McGrady for third all-time in points scored in Magic history with a layup in the fourth quarter.

Ross finished his first game back since suffering right knee tendonitis with 12 points. 

The Magic have now lost five of their last six games. 

Orlando will be back in action this Wednesday night when they host the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m.