You would have to imagine that way the Orlando Magic limped into the season as the sixth seed without superstar Dwight Howard down the stretch, they would be pretty happy about taking home-court advantage away from the number-three seed Indiana Pacers. Even if it meant splitting the series at one game a piece.
But after Monday night's 93-78 beating that the Indiana Pacers (1-1) elbow-dropped onto Orlando, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy openly admitted he couldn't take any positives going into game three on Wednesday night.
"They beat us with their effort and their energy tonight, and that's not acceptable," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The facts are there in the pudding, with the Pacers running up 22 fastbreak points along with 25 second-chance points to close out what was a pretty close game that saw Orlando leading the Pacers 44-42 at the half. This was despite the fact Indiana played great on the ball defense around the perimeter very well, and once again gave the Magic struggles inside the paint. But the Pacers ability to grab boards during the first and second half was practically night and day, as Indiana allowed 12 offensive rebounds alone during the first half against an Orlando team they have rather out-sized.
However during the third quarter the Pacers unleashed a fury on a Magic team that couldn't find any answers or offensive flow, scoring 30 points to the Magic's 13, and only allowing one offensive rebound the entire second half.
"We kept them off the glass and kept them to eight three-point field goal attempts," said Vogel on the team's second half performance.
"We have been preaching to our guys all series that it is not good enough to challenge these guys. They shoot the ball and have to do more than scramble at their attempts. We allowed them to shoot 17 attempts in the first half, we were scrambling all over the place, and as a result we were giving up offensive rebounds. So we guarded the three better in the second half, and we started to execute offensively as we wanted too."
As a whole Indiana limited Orlando to just 35.5% shooting from the field in the loss.
David West Continues To Give Magic Struggles They Can't Handle
Too big. Too strong. Too good. Take the word too and attach a positive adjective to it, and that practically displays how David West has played in this playoff series through two games against Orlando.
After going 8 for 14 on Saturday night with 9 rebounds, an emotional West carved up the Magic defense with short hook shots and inside lay-ups early in the game, ultimately leading to his 12th double-double of the season with 18 points (tying Granger and Hill for the team-high), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and even two steals to go with it.
But what doesn't show up on the stat sheet from his play on Monday night was his hustle on defense, the fire inside to motivate his teammates, and the rest of the intangibles that made him practically a steal during the off-season as a free agent.
"Hes providing our team with the necessary swagger to get a playoff win," said Vogel about West. "Hes just dialed in. He is a playoff tested veteran."
West's on-court demeanor and intensity rubbed off on his teammates, who found themselves frustrating the Magic out of their game.
"I thought we did a better job fighting for loose balls and making them uncomfortable," said West. "I think our intent is to come out and push the tempo. Weve got guys who can get out on the wing. We cant come too robotic. Tonight we were able to get in their space, make them uncomfortable and get some easy baskets.
Where West came up biggest though was at the free-throw line, going 8 for 10 from the charity stripe, helping a Pacers squad that went 25-28 overall on the night after a rather poor performance that cost them game one.
Second Quarter Dunk Spurs Paul George
There's no way to hide the fact that Paul George, despite showing flashes of brilliance throughout the regular season that he will one day grow into a potential franchise player, was having a less than brilliant playoff series through the first five quarters of play.
George had only scored 10 points in those five quarters, not particularly the type of offense the blue and gold could have been hoping for from their 6"10 shooting guard. That of course, was until George jumped up and practically tore the roof from Bankers Life Fieldhouse down.
In the second quarter on Monday night George came in off a Danny Granger missed three, grabbed the rebound mid-air, and slammed down a thunderous one-handed dunk to tie the game at 32-32 with 7:02 left. The jam ignited the Bankers Life Fieldhouse crowd and George's play, as George finished the night with 17 points and eight rebounds.
It's that ferocity and momentum that helped spark-plug a team that was hearing some boo-birds from the home crowd throughout the second quarter, but played with much more emotion from there on out.
"We played the game tough," said George. "But that third quarter we were diving on the ball, getting our hands on the ball, and picking up defensively. We were just getting back to the reason as to why we have been so successful."
- Danny Granger bounced back from the lackluster fourth quarter from game one, finishing with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
- Roy Hibbert continued to struggle offensively with only four points, but had a tremendous night on the glass, getting thirteen rebounds in just twenty-three minutes.
- George Hill finished with 18 points on the night, hitting a big three-pointer with 4:50 in the third quarter to push the Pacers up 64-55. As Hill made his way to the bench on a Magic timeout the crowd roared in unison, causing a frenzy near the bench as an emotional Hill was screaming at the top of his lungs as he made way to his teammates.
- All positives aside, the Pacers shot rather poorly from behind the arc, going 2 for 20 throughout the entire game.
- Tyler Hansbrough continues to give opposing teams major struggles with his energy, forcing two jump-balls and three steals in 18:20 of play.
- After playing the role of hero in game one, Jason Richardson finished with just two points on one for five shooting... Richardson went back during the locker room to get his non-shooting hand examined during the first half.
- Glen Davis continued to play well for Orlando, finishing with 18 points and ten rebounds on the night.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun