David West’s absence hardly affected Indiana in its most recent game, and the Pacers might get by without him if he is sidelined again Tuesday night given the opponent.
After avoiding a season high-tying third straight defeat, Indiana will try to post back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly three weeks when it welcomes the lowly Orlando Magic.
A sprained lower back caused West, the team’s second-leading scorer, to miss only his second game this season Monday but the Pacers (41-26) cruised to a 111-90 victory in Cleveland. Gerald Green scored a team-best 20 points off the bench and West’s replacement in the starting lineup, Tyler Hansbrough, had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“This was a great team win,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Tyler is a starter in this league that we have coming off the bench. Obviously, we got a big, big lift from Gerald Green.”
That victory and Chicago’s loss to Denver put Indiana 4 1/2 games ahead in the Central Division. Indiana will try to pad that lead by earning consecutive wins for the first time since March 1-3.
The Pacers have alternated losses and victories in their last five home games after winning 19 of their previous 21 in Indianapolis. They’ve also lost five straight regular-season matchups against Orlando at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but this Magic team will have a much different look than the one that made its last trip to Indiana for last year’s playoffs.
With four of its top five scorers from last season no longer on the team, Orlando has gone 6-36 since Dec. 20 and 3-17 on the road. In their latest game Sunday, the Magic blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and fell 115-109 in Milwaukee.
Orlando had three players score 20 or more points for the second straight game but the outcome was the same as a 117-104 defeat in Oklahoma City on Friday. Arron Afflalo had a team-best 24 in Sunday’s game, and rookie forward Maurice Harkless scored a career-high 23, but Orlando allowed the Bucks to score 45 fourth-quarter points on 15-of-23 shooting (65.2 percent).
“In the fourth quarter we didn’t defend like we did the first three quarters,” said center Nikola Vucevic, who had 20 points after scoring 21 on Friday. “We didn’t make the right adjustments. We didn’t defend it right. They got back into it and got the win.”
The Magic also had trouble containing Indiana on March 8, as Paul George’s 25 points led six Pacers in double figures in a 115-86 road victory. Indiana matched its second-highest scoring total of the season while shooting 51.8 percent – including 11 of 19 from 3-point range.
George is averaging 22.3 points on 55.8 percent in his last three regular-season games against Orlando.
The Magic are visiting Indiana for the first time since a 105-87 drubbing in the decisive Game 5 of last year’s first-round playoff series. The Pacers’ series victory was their first since 2005.