Magic Musings: Losing streak grows to 5 after 4th-quarter frustrations

ORLANDO, Fla. — Up by nine points with eight minutes remaining Sunday night, the Orlando Magic appeared to be on the verge of snapping a four-game losing streak and winning for only the third time this month.

Instead, the Indiana Pacers were the team that supplied the finishing kick as they broke a lengthy slide of their own in coming away with a 106-99 victory.

The Magic shot 52.5 percent from the floor through three quarters but made just six of 17 shots over the final 12 minutes. Victor Oladlipo, who had 11 points in the Magic’s 33-point third quarter, went scoreless in the fourth.

The Pacers, who had dropped seven in a row, outrebounded the Magic 47-33 and held them to only three offensive rebounds. Though Nikola Vucevic topped all scorers with 27 points, he grabbed only seven rebounds in 34 minutes.

The Magic had given up an average of 113.1 points in their eight previous games and still haven’t held anyone under 100 points since a 93-90 loss Jan. 7 at Denver.

Aaron Gordon made the first start of his career, replacing fellow rookie Devyn Marble at small forward. Gordon finished with nine points, four rebounds and one blocked shot in 21 minutes, all in the first three quarters.

David West led the Pacers in scoring with 20 points. But none of those came in the fourth quarter, when the Pacers outscored the Magic 31-17.

THE TURNING POINT

Magic vs. Pacers

George Hill put the Pacers ahead to stay by breaking a 97-97 tie with a driving layup in which he blew past Oladipo and a dunk off one of the Magic’s 12 turnovers.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Pacers rookie forward Damjan Rudez scored 16 of his career-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 21.2 seconds remaining which sealed the victory.

STAT OF THE GAME

The Pacers, who were 27th in the NBA in field-goal percentage, became the fourth Magic opponent in their last six games to shoot better than 50 percent.

WHAT’S NEXT

Monday night at Memphis, 8 p.m.

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.