INDIANAPOLIS — For almost three quarters Tuesday night, the Orlando Magic looked like the Indiana Pacers' match.
The closing seconds of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter changed that.
Propelled by repeated trips to the free-throw line, the physicality of center Roy Hibbert and a healthy dose of All-Star swingman Paul George, the Pacers turned a close game into a rout, beating the Magic 97-87 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the teams' regular-season opener.
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"They got a little more physical," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. "They made more shots, obviously, and we can't allow that to happen. I don't know if we let up off the gas a little bit."
George keyed a momentum swing late in the third quarter and scored a game-high 24 points, while Hibbert dominated on the inside, collecting 16 rebounds and blocking seven shots.
But the Magic found plenty of fault with themselves.
They committed 19 turnovers and struggled to defend without fouling, especially in the third quarter.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn felt the turning point occurred with 6.1 seconds left in the third, after Ronnie Price hit a short jumper to cut Indiana's lead to 65-64. After the ball fell through the net, Indiana's David West and Orlando's Kyle O'Quinn touched the ball simultaneously, but it seemed like the momentum from O'Quinn sent the ball over the baseline.
It was the Magic's second delay-of-game violation of the night, and it resulted in a made technical-foul shot for the Pacers.
Then, George delivered a haymaker.
After the inbounds pass, he swished a 3 from the top of the arc as time expired to put the Pacers up 69-64.
"I took a look at the film, and it looks like their guy and our guy had both their hands up at the basketball," Vaughn said. "We get the delay of game. They score four points in six seconds on us. That's a huge turnaround. And I know that's a point of emphasis of not touching the basketball, but I think we need to be clear who touches the basketball."
Orlando's Andrew Nicholson scored a team-high 18 points — all in the first half — while rookie Victor Oladipo added 12 points in his regular-season debut.
The first few minutes of the season couldn't have started any worse for the Magic, who were outmuscled in the paint, outhustled on the boards and outscored 12-0 in the first three-plus minutes.
The Magic recovered, thanks largely to Nicholson, a second-year power forward who provided instant offense off the bench. Nicholson made eight of his nine shot attempts during the first half.
But Nicholson didn't score another point.
Vaughn wanted Nicholson to match up exclusively against the Pacers' backup power forward, Luis Scola, and Jason Maxiell to match up against the Pacers' rugged power forward, David West.
Scola didn't play at all in the third, so neither did Nicholson.
"It was on me to make that call, and I did," Vaughn said.
Oladipo, who returned to the state where he went to college, received a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 18,165 when he first entered the game.
He finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. He collected three rebounds, had two assists and turned the ball over three times.
The Magic shot just 38.7 percent from the field as the defense-oriented Pacers blocked 18 shots.
"We knew Orlando was a young, scrappy team with the ability to score points in bunches," said West, who blocked five shots.
West, George and Hibbert stopped the Magic cold.
"They gave us their first punch, and we were resilient," Vaughn said. "Coming into the third quarter, we relaxed a little bit, and you can't have that."