Preview: Victor Oladipo, Pacers await Magic squad looking to snap out of slump
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers might have been feeling good about how they were playing during a five-game winning streak.
They experienced a reality check in the form of a 108-98 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. During their loss to the best team in the league, the Pacers allowed the Celtics to shoot 56.3 percent, got outscored 37-16 in the third quarter and blew a double-digit lead.
“For us it was a night to learn,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We’re playing some good basketball, but there is another level when you meet up with a team like this.”
The Pacers (11-9) will try to get back on track Monday night against the slumping Orlando Magic.
“We’re working on trying to play with that kind of pressure defensively and play with the same pace offensively,” McMillan said after his team was outscored 63-44 in the second half. “We’re trying to get there. I think our guys have been working hard and doing good things, but you can’t have 20 turnovers against a team that good. We didn’t handle the pressure well.”
Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said there were “a lot of self-inflicted mistakes, bad shots, we just have to be better with the basketball.”
Indiana also faced Boston without leading scorer Victor Oladipo. Oladipo, who is averaging 22.8 points per game, suffered a bruised right knee in Friday night’s victory over Toronto.
He is questionable for Monday night’s game. McMillan said Oladipo’s knee has some swelling and soreness Saturday. Lance Stephenson started in his place, scoring 16 points and pulling down eight rebounds.
“We’re a team that does it by committee,” Young said. “Any time someone goes down, we notice the absence. But we have a lot of guys that can step in and play.”
The Magic (8-12) have dropped eight consecutive games and are 2-10 in their last 12 games after a 130-111 loss at Philadelphia 130-111 on Saturday night.
The 130 points were the most the Magic have allowed this season. The team also has given up 125 points twice and one 124 in the losing streak.
“It’s really hard because it’s not like we’re just losing close games or something where you’re right there and know you’re close,” Magic center Nikola Vucevic told the Orlando Sentinel. “The last couple of games, it’s been by 20 every game and it’s just been bad on both ends of the floor and no effort and not competing enough. It’s tough. A lot of stuff has to turn around for us. A lot of stuff has to get fixed. Obviously, it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Orlando second-year coach Frank Vogel, who spent 5 1/2 seasons as the Pacers coach before being replaced by McMillan, said he was considering shaking things up to get the Magic out of their funk.
“Guys are trying but we’re not getting enough done,” Vogel said. “Our whole group has to do better on the defensive end.”
Magic forward Aaron Gordon told the team website he isn’t sure why the team is struggling defensively.
“It might be technique,” Gordon said. “I know, on my part, I didn’t uphold my defensive standards and that leads to couple of easy points for them. But we’ve got to continue to communicate. We’ll break out of it. We can’t panic and we have to stay composed.”
Indiana has won 12 of the last 13 meetings. Last Monday, Oladipo scored 29 points in a 105-97 win at Orlando.