Magic really missing Howard; lose 97-74 in game three

The Magic desperately missed all-star center Dwight Howard as the Indiana Pacers came to Orlando and dominated with a 97-74 win during game three of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

With Howard out for the entire postseason with a back injury, the Pacers took advantage, scoring 42 points in the paint and out-rebounding the Magic 45-33 in Wednesday night’s game at the Amway Center.

“Dwight is the best center in the game. When you lose him, you lose a big defensive presence,” said Pacers forward Danny Granger, who led all scorers with 26 points, and added nine rebounds. “It’s a huge hole for them to fill, but to their credit, they had guys who stepped in.”

Pacers big man Roy Hibbert dominated the Magic inside, scoring 18 points and bringing down 10 rebounds (five on offense).

“Roy was terrific,” said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel. “They’ve got a size disadvantage without Dwight Howard. There’s no secret there, they’re doing the best they can.”

The Magic were led by Howard’s replacement, Glen Davis. Davis scored a team-high 22 points, but only managed four rebounds. The Pacers continually left Davis open for mid-range jumpers and he made them pay, shooting 10-18 from the field.

“I had open looks, and that’s what I’ve got to do,” said Davis. “Open looks you have to hit the shots, I had a good rhythm and a good flow.”

Orlando was plagued by bad shooting early on, as point guard Jameer Nelson missed multiple open threes. Nelson finished the game with 10 points, shooting 30 percent from the field.

Ryan Anderson didn’t make his first three-pointer until the 8:17 mark in the fourth quarter. Anderson, the NBA’s leading three-point shooter in the regular season, had just seven points in the game.

“I thought Ryan was not good today at all,” said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. “Ryan wants to score points, but they’re staying home on him. He’s getting tough shots.”

The Pacers scored the first points of the game, and never relinquished the lead. They led by as much as 29 at one point, and the Magic cut the lead to two points late in the second quarter, but were outscored 55-34 to open both halves.

With the win, Indiana takes a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series. The two teams will continue the series with game four scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip-off Saturday afternoon.