In a game that turned from an offensive shootout to a defensive slugfest, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers by the score of 90-86 and win their season-high fourth consecutive game. For the second time this season, Jameer Nelson was the hero for the Magic in the waning moments. With Orlando down by a single point, Nelson’s fallaway jumper with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter proved to be the winning basket. The shot, plus the foul and the free throw, put the Magic up by two points at 88-86 and after James Posey missed a potential game-winning three for the Pacers, Vince Carter‘s free-throws iced the game and polished off another victory. Orlando was led by Dwight Howard, who had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks. Rashard Lewis broke out of his shooting slump and chipped in with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
This was a fascinating game to watch.
In the first half, neither team could stop each other.
And for Indiana, it was the Roy Hibbert show. Similar to when the Magic and Pacers faced off against each other in early January last season, Hibbert was thoroughly outplaying Howard in the first and second quarters. Hibbert executed beautifully from the high and low posts, mixing in a nice blend of face-up jumpers and hook shots that translated into 17 points in the first half. Hibbert could do no wrong, as he was able to get Howard in foul trouble and subsequently take advantage of Marcin Gortat when he checked into the game. Make no mistake, Hibbert was on pace for a huge night for Indiana but the tables turned in the second half.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Hibbert picked up two quick fouls and that changed the dynamic of the game. As good of a back-up center that Jeff Foster is, and he was able to make some hustle plays against Orlando, he’s nowhere near the threat on offense that Hibbert is. As such, the Magic’s perimeter defense was a little more aggressive and the Pacers struggled to score.
Quentin Richardson‘s defense on Danny Granger, for example, was excellent.
Richardson made life extremely difficult for Granger on offense, denying him the basketball in the half-court whenever possible. When Granger did get the ball, Richardson blanketed him and with his active hands, disrupted his ability to get into the flow of the offense. By the end of the night, Granger had 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting and Richardson is a big reason for that stat-line.
So how was Orlando able to win?
As mentioned, the defense in the second half drastically improved.
Also, Lewis and Howard carried the Magic’s offense in the third and fourth quarters.
[10:04] Lewis makes 25-foot three-point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[9:26] Lewis makes 25-foot three-point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[7:22] Lewis makes 26-foot three-point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[6:24] Lewis makes 13-foot jumpshot (Nelson assist)
[5:35] Lewis makes 18-foot jumpshot (Nelson assist)
For one of the first times this year, Lewis was in a groove offensively and Orlando did a great job of feeding him the basketball. The most interesting thing that stands out from Lewis’ performance is how he was able to generate his points. Magic fans are familiar with Lewis’ ability to make corner threes from 1/5 pick and rolls with Nelson and Howard, in which Nelson drive-and-kicks it to Lewis. But Lewis got involved a lot in 1/4 pick and pops with Nelson, which is something that hasn’t been seen much — if at all — in head coach Stan Van Gundy‘s playbook. On three separate possessions in the third quarter, Nelson and Lewis executed a 1/4 pick and pops. On the first sequence, Lewis made a three-pointer. On the second sequence, Lewis dived to the paint and made a jumper. On the third sequence, Lewis made another jumpshot on the elbow.
Not sure if Lewis involved in pick and rolls is going to be a trend for Orlando, but maybe it should be. Lewis looked fantastic and carried the Magic in the third quarter on offense.
As for Howard, he dominated in the fourth quarter.
[10:34] Howard makes 7-foot shot
[10:06] Howard dunk (Bass assist)
[9:38] Howard makes 4-foot shot
[9:06] Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
[8:32] Howard dunk (Duhon assist)
[6:56] Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
[6:56] Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
[2:47] Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
[1:47] Howard makes running jumper
Howard got his points in a variety of ways, but mostly on post ups. When Howard wasn’t too busy getting fouled in the lane, he was able to make a few hook shots and lead Orlando close to the finish line. From there, Nelson took care of the rest with his game-winning shot.