Plenty of teams have struggled this season because of the NBA lockout but the Indiana Pacers are not one of them.
The surprising Central Division inhabitants are 11-4 and off to the best start after 15 games since the 2003-04 squad opened the year 13-2. Indiana is back at home after a successful three-game road trip and will entertain Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana went 2-1 on the trek and has won five of its last six games. It is coming off Sunday's 98-96 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in which Roy Hibbert shook off a broken nose to post 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Danny Granger added 16 points and David West scored 15 for Indiana, which shot 46.8 percent for the game and had a 50-43 rebounding edge.
"We didn't win the free-throw battle like we want to win, but sometimes you're not going to get the calls on the road and we expect that, and our guys gutted it out for a big win for us," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
Paul George chipped in 13 points, while Darren Collison had 12 and George Hill scored 11 off the bench in the win. The Pacers are 5-0 at home this season -- their best start as the host since they won their first seven home games of 2002-03. After tonight's game the Pacers will return to the road for a three- game trek against Chicago, Boston and Orlando.
Hibbert (nose) is listed as probable for tonight and the former Georgetown star is averaging 13.9 points and 9.9 rebounds this season.
Orlando is coming off last night's 87-56 loss at Boston, as it shot a dreadful 24.6 percent from the floor and made only 4-of-16 three-pointers. Howard was the only player in double figures for the Magic, finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Hedu Turkoglu had seven points and Ryan Anderson went 0-for-8 from the field for zero points. Glen Davis provided six points and 11 rebounds against his former team. The Magic entered the game having won six of seven games. Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy was at a loss for words on his team's poor play.
"I can't explain it. I can't explain why," he said. "They took us out of everything we did. I'm not saying we don't deserve blame, give us a lot of blame, but also make sure you give them a lot of credit.
Orlando set franchise lows for points, field goals (16) and field goal percentage (24.6). The Magic are 5-3 away from home and will close out a quick two-game road trip this evening against the Pacers. Howard, meanwhile, posted his fourth straight double-double on Monday and is only eight points shy of passing Nick Anderson to become the teams all-time leading scorer. Anderson, who played 10 seasons with the Magic from 1989-99, stands at the top of the list with 10,650 points.
The Magic swept the three-game set with Indiana a season ago and has won the last five meetings between the teams. They are 12-3 in the past 15 matchups with Indiana, losers of three straight as the host in this series.