In the first two games against the Orlando Magic, the Indiana Pacers struggled to make the most of their size and matchup advantages.
After several days of repeated tongue lashings from coach Frank Vogel, the Pacers finally got the message and capitalized on both, running past the Magic 97-74 on Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.
Danny Granger had 26 points and nine rebounds, Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Indiana held Orlando under 80 points for the second straight game.
The Pacers regained home-court advantage, riding good shooting early, building a 29-point lead in the fourth quarter and cruising to the victory.
”I think we’re adjusting,” Hibbert said. ”We see what they’re doing. … They made their run at the end of the first quarter. We adjusted, then we tried to lay it on them as much as possible.”
Indiana dominated scoring underneath thanks to a 46-33 rebounding edge and has outscored the Magic 81-43 in the third quarter in the series.
”Terrific win by our club,” Vogel said. ”We understood the importance of winning on the road, and to be a great basketball team, and to go on a deep playoff run which is what we hoped to do starting this season.”
Vogel said the goal was to limit Orlando’s 3-point attempts and thought that ”holding that team to 15 3-point field goal (attempts) when they average 28 is a strong defensive effort.”
Glen Davis led the Magic with 22 points, and J.J. Redick added 13. The Magic never led, struggled to get any scoring in the paint, and made a series-low five 3-pointers.
One of the biggest disappoints in the series continues to be the play of Ryan Anderson, who was held to seven points and one 3-pointer. He has scored 23 points total in the three games.
”I’m not going to lie, it’s frustrating as a group (and) in general to lose a game like this,” he said. ”But obviously we can bounce back and player harder next game. The great thing about this is we have another game, so keep playing.”
Vogel also implored the Pacers after each of the first two games to make better shot selections.
They finally did that as well.
It translated into their best shooting of the series as the Pacers built a 23-point lead in the third quarter and led 76-55 entering the fourth.
Indiana had its way both inside and out, shooting 47 percent for the game (37 for 79) and holding a 42-22 edge on points in the paint.
Meanwhile, aside from Davis, Orlando’s offense stalled at several points and the Magic connected on only 30 of their 71 attempts from the field.
Indiana led 44-38 at the half, but started the game on an offensive tear hitting nine of its first 10 shots from the field and shot 52 percent (18 for 34) for the half.
The Magic had few answers for Hill, who scored 13 points in the opening two periods.
Orlando survived the fast start, though, thanks largely to Davis’ 16-point second quarter. His scoring spree featured mid-range jumpers and some baskets in the post. It all came after Davis missed all three of his shots in the first quarter.
The Pacers put the Magic in a 10-point first-quarter hole for the third straight game, jumping out to a 13-3 advantage.
Orlando missed its first five shots before Hedo Turkoglu hit a 3-pointer to finally put the Magic on the board.
Granger said he thinks the roots of the Pacers resurgence the past two games aren’t hard to find.
”That (Game 1) loss really woke us up,” he said. ”It showed us what Orlando was capable of and we knew we had to really play in this series to win. We have just been executing especially on the defensive end…In a playoff series it’s kind of like a chess match.”
Game 4 is Saturday in Orlando, and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said changes must be made during that time if they’re going to turn things around.
”They clearly dominated us tonight, and that’s three first quarters and three third quarters where it’s been the same story. So we’ll take look at that and see if we want to make some changes or something. We can’t be playing out of a hole all the time.”
As good as it feels to have the Magic backpedaling now, though, Pacers guard Paul George said no one is feeling like the series is over yet.
”It gives us confidence, but at the same time we know this team is dangerous,” he said. ”We don’t want to be happy about just being up 2-1, but just take it one game at a time. Basically, this could be a long series if we don’t take care of business.”
And generate another talking to from their coach.
Notes: Indiana outrebounded Orlando for the third consecutive game. … Orlando G Jason Richardson started Wednesday after jamming his left thumb in the Magic’s Game 2 loss. … About a dozen Magic fans sitting near midcourt wore homemade Davis-inspired ”Baby’s Crazies” t-shirts. … Wednesday was George’s 22nd birthday.