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Emptying the Notebook: Pacers 98, Magic 79

Danny Granger and Maurice Harkless (Frank McGrath -- Pacers.com)
Danny Granger and Maurice Harkless (Frank McGrath — Pacers.com)

Brandon Curry
ISR Pacers Beat Writer

As the “dog days” of the NBA season roll on and the All-Star break approaches, the Indiana Pacers will need their reserves to pick up some slack. They did just that in Monday night’s 98-79 victory over the Orlando Magic. The bench combined for 49 points — or as much as the five starters.

As a group, the reserves committed just one turnover on the night (a Donald Sloan miscue in garbage time), which was a point of emphasis for the entire team before Monday night’s game. They also connected on five of their 11 attempts from the three-point line. Danny Granger (16), Luis Scola (10), and C.J. Watson (12) all scored in double-figures.

While the shooting as a whole wasn’t particularly great — the Pacers hoisted up 25 threes and hit just eight of them, while shooting 42 percent from the field — the ball movement improved and the turnovers came down compared to previous games.

The Pacers looked as if they were going to run away with the game early. Orlando offered little resistance on defense in the first half, as time after time the Pacers found themselves scoring at the rim. Indiana poured in 59 first half points. However, the Pacers bailed out the Magic some what, by getting into a jump-shooting battle with their counterpart in the third quarter, allowing Orlando to get back into the game for a bit.

Team Shot Charts (NBA.com/stats)
Team Shot Charts (NBA.com/stats)

Indiana’s league-leading defense kicked in, though, allowing Orlando just 29 second half points. Arron Afflalo, Orlando’s top scoring threat, could manage just two of his 20 points on the night in the final two quarters.

The reserves’ performance allowed head coach Frank Vogel to rest his starters for the entire fourth quarter, which could prove to be huge as the Pacers travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Tuesday.

“I challenged our second unit guys to not make me put the starters back in [in the 4th quarter],” Vogel said. “They were able to do that.”

QUOTABLES

Vogel on the Pacers’ offense in the 3rd quarter and Orlando’s defensive scheme:

Even if they’re leaving you wide open at the three point line, which is what Orlando does, they swarm the ball and dare you to shoot from the perimeter, you still got to drive. You got to recognize we’ve taken a few jumpers in a row, let’s get the ball inside, or drive it.

Vogel on Ian Mahinmi, who left the game in the fourth quarter after injuring his shoulder:

He said he’s fine. But I haven’t heard word from the trainer.

David West on Granger:

We made a point of trying to get Danny going tonight. I thought he did a good job coming out and getting his shots, getting his looks. He’s getting his legs back under him. His timing is coming.

West on the bench’s performance:

Our bench is dangerous. We’re going to have to depend on those guys as the year wears on. They’ve been solid for us all year.

West on tomorrow’s match-up with the Atlanta Hawks:

We got to be able to defend them. They play five-out basketball, got five guys on the perimeter. We got to be able to guard our man, guard the three-point line, and keep our guys in front of us. It’s going to be a challenge.

Brandon Curry is the Pacers Beat Writer at the Indy Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Pacers and has full media access. Follow Brandon and the ISR on Twitter.

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