Pacers aim for bounce-back effort at Orlando
The Indiana Pacers will try to get back on track after a stunning loss on Wednesday when they head to Amway Center to take on the Orlando Magic.
The Pacers blew a nine-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes to go on Wednesday, at home to the Boston Celtics. Jeff Green laid one in with .5 seconds left on the clock to halt Indiana's two-game winning streak.
"Part of the lesson you learn throughout an 82-game season is to win in the playoffs, you have to execute offensively down the stretch," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "We didn't do that well enough tonight."
The Pacers only managed 13 points in the fourth quarter and 32 total in the second half. Indiana prides itself on defense, and even that fell apart, especially on the game-winning play.
"We just didn't talk. I didn't communicate," admitted All-Star Paul George. "I think it was a back screen and Jeff Green curled off of it. We said switch everything and communication failed on that one."
The Pacers have still won seven of their last nine and three in a row on the road. They are only 13-16 away from home this season and have 12 of their last 21 on the road.
The Magic fought valiantly in their last outing, a 97-96 setback in Miami against the defending champion, and scorching-hot, Heat. LeBron James knifed through the lane and scored the winning layup with 3.2 seconds left on the clock.
"It was just a matter of seconds, it could have changed the game," Tobias Harris said. "It's a tough loss for us, but a step in the right direction."
Against the Heat, Nikola Vucevic was awesome with 25 points and 21 rebounds. Both he and Mo Harkless fouled out, but Harkless, Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and Harris all scored in double figures.
The Magic have had to deal with recent comments by former flagship Dwight Howard, who said, "my team in Orlando was a team full of people that nobody wanted."
Nelson, who played several seasons with Howard, including one trip to the NBA Finals, spoke out against his former teammate's comments. That distraction maybe helped Orlando's focus against the Heat.
Things don't get easier with the Pacers, who are the third seed in the East, but virtually tied with the New York Knicks, in town.
The Magic, who have lost six straight at home, defeated Indiana in the only matchup this season, a 97-86 victory in Orlando on Jan. 16. The Magic have won three straight in this series.