The Indiana Pacers had a chance to get back to .500 on Wednesday night in Orlando. They took on Magic, trying to build on an impressive win from Tuesday night.
Instead, they played one of the worst defensive plays they’ve played all season. The Magic, who went into the night ranked 25th in the NBA with a 111.3 offensive rating, picked up 126 points and mostly made it look easy. Indiana had a few brief defensive streaks, but not nearly enough.
The Magic scored 56.1% that night and hit 15 threes, giving them fourth-best finish of the season. Their size and ability to get to the rim proved difficult for the Pacers to contain.
To his credit, the Pacers played well and fought back after a terrible start to the game. They were down 46-29 after the first quarter and played well for the rest of the game, especially offensively. But their defense was never good enough and they couldn’t get over their poor start.
“We got everything we wanted on offense,” Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. said on the Bally Sports Florida broadcast of the game. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Indiana made it late and reduced the lead to a single possession a few times during the game, but they never led. Despite 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’ve now lost eight of their last 10 games and are looking for answers with Tyrese Haliburton sidelined.
The Pacers’ weak defense will be their biggest takeaway. It has to get better. But it’s not the only one after another defeat.
The Pacers’ defense was terrible
In the end, the Pacers gave up 126 points. That’s bad, but it’s not a terrible number. Given who they played against and the way the Pacers played on the less glamorous end of the field, this has to be considered one of their worst defensive plays of the season.
Orlando has only surpassed 126 points in a game five times this season before this clash. They finished the season with a high three-point percentage (53.6%) and their third-best field goal percentage (56.1%). The Pacers couldn’t stop them.
Indiana has conceded more than 126 goals 10 times this season, but only one or two of those games have been against weak attacks. That was almost as bad as the Pacers have played defensively all season, and it cost them.
Myles Turner’s injury is major
With less than a minute left in the game, Myles Turner injured his right foot/ankle after a collision on offense. He knocked down two free throws and generated a steal while in pain, but he had to stop proceedings with 24 seconds left.
He took off his shoe on the bench and did not return to the game. With the trade deadline and the renegotiation and extension period approaching in the next 35 days, an injury to Turner could have serious consequences for Indiana.
The Pacers’ big man left the court with little to no limp on his way out of the game. It’s too early to say what the injury is, but it’s necessary to monitor the Pacers and the entire NBA. Turner finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
TJ McConnell continued his excellent game
TJ McConnell got into the starting lineup a few games ago and he’s been great in the games ever since.
He ended the first game 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.
It continued tonight. McConnell finished with 17 points and eight assists on 8/8 shooting against the Magic, he was excellent. The 30-year-old has now scored double-digit goals in eight of his last nine games. He rose with Haliburton.
The Pacers will look to get back in the winning column on Friday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.
- Tyrese Haliburton says he hopes to return for the Indiana Pacers “in early February” from injury. CLICK HERE.
- Report: Goga Bitadze is the Indiana Pacers’ ‘most likely’ big man to be traded this season. CLICK HERE.
- Myles Turner has improved significantly this season. Just ask his former teammates and coaches. CLICK HERE.
- Bennedict Mathurin ends the Chicago Bulls with a great fourth quarter: “I like adversity a lot.” CLICK HERE.
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