The Indiana Pacers had a chance to get back to .500 Wednesday night in Orlando. They took on the Magic, looking to build on an impressive win from Tuesday night.
Instead, they played one of the worst defensive games they have played all season. The Magic, who entered the night ranked 25th in the NBA with a 111.3 offensive rating, scored 126 points and mostly made it look easy. Indiana had a few brief bursts of defensive success, but not nearly enough.
The Magic shot 56.1% on the night and made 15 threes, tied for their fourth-most of the season. Their size and ability to get to the rim proved difficult for the Pacers to contain.
To the Pacers’ credit, after a horrible start to the game, they played well and battled back. They were down 46-29 after the first quarter and played well the rest of the way, especially offensively. But their defense was never good enough and they could not overcome their poor start.
“We got what we wanted on the offensive end,” Magic Center Wendell Carter Jr. said on the Bally Sports Florida telecast of the game. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Indiana made it close late, cutting the lead to a single possession on a couple of occasions during the game, but they never led. Despite scoring 21 points in the final 5:38 of the fourth quarter, the Pacers fell 126-120.
The blue and gold fell to 24-26 on the season. They have now dropped eight of their last 10 games and are looking for answers with Tyrese Haliburton on the sidelines.
The Pacers’ weak defense will be their biggest takeaway. It has to be better. But that’s not the only thing after the second loss.
The Pacers defense was terrible
In the end, the Pacers gave up 126 points. It’s bad, but it’s not a terrible number. Considering who they played and looking at the way the Pacers played on the less glamorous end of the floor, this has to be considered one of their worst defensive games of the season.
Orlando has only scored 126+ points in a game five times this season prior to this matchup. They finished with a season-high three-point percentage (53.6%) and their third-best field goal percentage (56.1%). The Pacers couldn’t stop them.
Indiana has been shut out 126+ 10 times this season, but only one or two of those games were against weak offenses. This was close to as bad as the Pacers have played defensively all season, and it cost them.
Myles Turner’s injury is big
With less than a minute left in the game, Myles Turner injured his right foot/ankle after a collision on the offensive end. He knocked down two free throws and generated a steal while in pain, but had to leave the game with 24 seconds left.
He took off his shoe on the bench and did not return to the game. With the trade and renegotiation deadline and extension deadline in the next 35 days, an injury to Turner could have serious consequences for Indiana.
The Pacers big man walked off the court with little to no limp on his way out of the game. It’s too early to tell what the injury is, but it’s necessary to monitor for the Pacers and the entire NBA. Turner finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
TJ McConnell continued his excellent play
TJ McConnell moved into the starting lineup a few games ago and he’s been great in the games since that happened.
In the first game, he finished with a triple double against the Phoenix Suns. Three days later, he had 20 points and 10 assists against the Bulls. The veteran guard has been in a groove lately.
Tonight it continued. McConnell finished with 17 points and eight assists on 8/8 shooting against the Magic, he was outstanding. The 30-year-old has now finished scoring figures in eight of his last nine games. With Haliburton out, he has stepped up.
The Pacers will look to get back in the win column on Friday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Tyrese Haliburton says he hopes to return from injury ‘to start February’ for the Indiana Pacers. CLICK HERE.
- Report: Goga Bitadze is the ‘most likely’ Indiana Pacers big man to be traded this offseason. CLICK HERE.
- Myles Turner has improved significantly this season. Just ask his former teammates and coaches. CLICK HERE.
- Bennedict Mathurin shuts down the Chicago Bulls with an excellent fourth quarter: ‘I like adversity a lot.’ CLICK HERE.
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