Granger, Hibbert lead Pacers past Magic
ORLANDO — Size does matter in the NBA, a fact the Indiana Pacers pounded into the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.
The Pacers hammered the timid and defenseless Magic 97-74 behind 26 points and nine rebounds from Danny Granger and 18 points and 10 rebounds from Roy Hibbert.
George Hill added 15 points for the Pacers, whose size advantage at every position really showed in the second half when they outscored Orlando 53-36, taking full advantage of the absence of injured Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard.
“Dwight is the best center in the game, so when you lose him, it’s a huge hole to fill,” Granger said. “And we’ve got a lot of guys who can go into the post and take advantage of it. I think we can be pretty proud of what we did offensively and defensively tonight.”
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy had just the opposite reaction after his team fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Saturday in Orlando.
“You can go across the board and I don’t think anyone played well,” Van Gundy said. “There are team wins and there are team losses and this was a team loss. Players, coaches, you name it. They clearly dominated us.”
The Pacers outscored the Magic 42-22 in the paint and won the battle of the boards 46-33. They limited a Magic team that averaged 27 attempts and 10 made 3-pointers this season, to just 15 attempts and five makes from behind the line.
“I told our guys to stay out on the perimeter and guard their 3-point shooters,” Hibbert said. “I told them if they take it to the basket, I would block or alter their shots and it worked out pretty well. We were good offensively, but we were really good defensively.”
Orlando got 22 points, but only four rebounds from Howard’s replacement, Glen Davis. The Magic’s starting five had only 12 rebounds between them for the game.
The 6-8 Davis did nearly all of his scoring on the perimeter, but got dominated in the paint. The Magic, who trailed by just six at halftime, got swamped in the second half when Indiana went almost exclusively inside with its offense.
The first half was just the opposite story. Indiana hit nine of its first 10 shots, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range. Granger had two of the treys and Hill the other as the Pacers sailed off to a 21-10 lead eight minutes into the game. Hill finished the quarter with nine and Granger had eight as Indiana moved the ball quickly and efficiently around the perimeter.
Davis shot Orlando back into the game in the second period. He hit three straight 18-footers from nearly the identical spot a step behind the foul line on his way to scoring 16 points in the quarter. Davis hit six of seven jumpers during one stretch, rebounding the only miss for a putback layup.
For all of that, however, the best the Magic could do was get the halftime deficit down to 44-38. Indiana outscored Orlando 32-17 in the third period to effectively put the game away with a 21-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
“This was a terrific win,” Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said. “Our starters are really dialed in. We understand the importance of winning on the road to be a great basketball team and go deep in the playoffs.”
Van Gundy hinted that there may be changes in the starting lineup after watching his team miss its first seven shots to open the game, and then get blown out in the third quarter.
“We’re in holes at the beginning of every half,” he said. “We fought our way back in the second quarter, but we can’t be playing out of a whole all the time. We’ll look at that and see if we need to make some changes.”
NOTES: Indiana led by as many as 29 in the second half. The Magic never led in the game. … Indiana has won six straight road games, dating back to the regular season. … Orlando had beaten Indiana four straight times at home during playoff games. Indiana C Roy Hibbert has 14 blocks in three playoff games. Ten of the blocks have been against Magic C Glen Davis. … The Magic are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference.