The Indiana Pacers headed south to take on the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center on Sunday evening. The blue and gold held a 2-0 season series advantage on the Magic, having won both contests at home in Indianapolis.
Indiana also boasted a perfect 13-0 mark on the first night of back-to-backs this season, with the game Sunday at Orlando being the first night of their 14th back-to-back this season.
However, the Magic were determined to interrupt that streak en route to defeating the Pacers, 93-92, in a nail-biter.
After a fairly close first half, the Indiana Pacers began to pull away in the third quarter. David West made a basket to put Indiana on top, 71-54. At that moment, it looked as though the Pacers were on their way to a blowout.
Then came Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. The Orlando trio caught fire, with Oladipo and Harris knocking down jump shots and Vucevic cleaning up what they missed on the offensive glass.
Indiana had no answer.
Orlando came all the way back to take their first lead since the first quarter at 80-79. They were able to extend their lead to as many as seven points with about six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
That is when Indiana head coach Frank Vogel inserted his starting lineup back into the game.
David West and Paul George led an Indiana rally that brought the Pacers back from seven points down to within one point with seconds remaining. The rally fell short, however, thanks to sloppy play on offense and some calls by the referees in the final two minutes that favored the Orlando Magic.
Bottom line, the Indiana Pacers failed to sustain their third quarter momentum. No excuses can be made for the loss in Orlando, as Indiana held firm control on the game in that third period.
As good of a team as the Pacers are in the second half, and have been all season, this one should have never been close. The blue and gold led Oladipo run free wherever he wanted with the ball in his hands, and that put a stamp on the result of the game.
Next up for the Indiana Pacers is a matchup Monday night at home against the Denver Nuggets.