INDIANAPOLIS — The Orlando Magic entered Saturday night with so much against them: a bizarre travel itinerary, the absence of two key players and diminished confidence after a recent stretch of poor play.

They overcame all of those hurdles, plus a bunch of additional obstacles they put in their own way.

The Magic beat the Indiana Pacers 85-81 in an intense, physical, entertaining game that featured an avalanche of technical fouls, turnovers and clutch late free throws. It was the kind of gritty road win that maybe, just maybe, will give Orlando some greatly needed momentum.

"It was huge," shooting guard Jason Richardson said. "Coming off playing nine games in 13 days and the travel we had today, this is a big game. We just battled. It wasn't pretty, but we fought."

The Magic won their third consecutive game and perhaps regained some of the confidence they had lost after they ended January with four straight losses.

"It's very rewarding," Anderson said. "This is a great team, a great home team, and it was a battle the whole game."

Dwight Howard scored a game-high 27 points, and Richardson added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Anderson made four key free throws during the game's final 10.3 seconds to protect a lead that Orlando nearly gave away.

The Magic turned the ball over 25 times, tying their season high, and committed three of their six individual technical fouls in the final quarter.

Ugly, all right.

The Magic (15-9) and the Pacers (16-7) had played the night before, and neither club looked sharp.

But Orlando had other excuses.

Because Super Bowl XLVI took up all the hotel rooms in Indianapolis, the Magic spent the night in northern Kentucky and then flew from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport into the city Saturday afternoon.

And they arrived without injured point guard Jameer Nelson and suspended big man Glen Davis.

The team became even more shorthanded with 1:17 remaining in the third.

Small forward Quentin Richardson took issue with what appeared to be an inadvertent elbow to his face from Danny Granger during the run of play. A few seconds later, Granger stood on the sideline to inbound the ball, and Richardson approached Granger and said, “Hey, watch those elbows!”

They stood face-to-face and shoved each other. Earl Clark and Tyler Hansbrough allowed themselves to get swept up in the incident and pushed each other. A few seconds later, Richardson said something else and was whistled for a second tech, prompting his ejection.

For a moment, a regular-season NBA game had all the tension of a UFC title bout — an added treat for a celebrity-laden, Super Bowl-driven crowd that included 50 Cent, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Adam Sandler.

How intense was it?