Indiana Pacers win fourth straight thanks to creative rotation against Orlando Magic
INDIANAPOLIS – The Orlando Magic are one of the NBA’s tallest teams, and they started a lineup with four players who are at least 6-foot-8 inches tall against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
The Magic’s size was bothering the Pacers for a while to open the game. The space to drive to the basket was smaller and the passing lanes were smaller. Indiana’s offense couldn’t find consistency against the bigger team.
So naturally, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle turned to a smaller group with 6-foot-5 Terry Taylor at center. And it worked perfectly.
The Pacers were down for the first two and a half quarters of the game, and the Magic had an answer for every Pacers run. With 5:22 left in the third quarter, Carlisle substituted Taylor for the first time of the night with his team down by three.
At the end of the quarter, the Pacers were up by five. Taylor had just three points and two rebounds individually, but his speed inside allowed a small-ball drive to connect, and Indiana went on a big run that turned the game around 180 degrees.
“Terry had effective games against them last year,” Carlisle said when citing some of his reasoning for turning to the second-year forward. Taylor averaged 12.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in three games against Orlando as a rookie. The head coach praised Taylor’s tough game in the short time he hit the court.
In the Pacers’ last nine games, Taylor has played just over six minutes combined. But he was a game-changing presence for the blue and gold on Saturday night, and the team had the upper hand thanks to his strong performance.
But there was still work to be done. The Pacers weren’t very high, and the Magic still had their giant lineups that they could use to disrupt the game. Although Indiana seized the momentum, things were far from settled.
The Pacers went up by seven with 8:33 left in the fourth quarter, only for Orlando to regain the lead two minutes later. Indiana then fought back to go up by four only for the Magic to steal the lead back. The last 12 minutes were fantastic as the teams traded blows.
The Magic found themselves down by four with about 90 seconds left, but Aaron Nesmith quickly found space for the Pacers and buried a three-pointer to pull within a late game. And neither team could buy a bucket for the next minute or so.
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But with ten seconds left, after a missed jumper by Tyrese Haliburton, Nesmith skied and grabbed an offensive rebound to keep the Blue and Gold in possession. Mo Bamba immediately fouled Nesmith, who put him at the free throw line. The freshman Pacer hit both free throws, which was enough to give the Pacers the lead in the dying moments. They only needed one save to win.
After an impressive defensive possession, they got it:
The final score was 114-113. “We increased our level of physicality,” Carlisle said of his team’s improved play in the second half.
“Just making stops and getting out and running,” Haliburton noted of the growth between the first and second half. “They change a lot, and we were able to take advantage of that.”
Haliburton was excellent for the Pacers despite being a game decision to play with an ankle injury he suffered. in Houston. He didn’t know if he would be able to suit up for the game until he showed up at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, but he still had 22 points and 14 assists. These stat lines have become normal for the base.
Nesmith put together his best game of the campaign with 19 points and five 3-pointers. Carlisle nearly opened the second half with Nesmith after he played so well in the first two quarters, and the third-year wing was in the Pacers’ closing lineup. It was excellent for both sides of the team.
“Aaron Nesmith had a big impact in this game defensively,” Carlisle said. “It was great to see him get involved on both ends of the court and have a game like that.”
Myles Turner finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double in six games. Jalen Smith (14 points) and Buddy Hield (15 points) also contributed.
Indiana is now 9-6 and has won four straight. They have won eight of their last ten games and have just one loss in the month of November. They are now tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
They will look to break into the conference’s top four on Monday when they face the Magic in a rematch of Saturday night’s game.
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