Pacers Win 4th Straight Over Magic
Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers used a balanced scoring approach to make up for Paul George’s off night, and Indiana lead nearly wire-to-wire in a 98-88 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Al was a big part of the effort, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes for a positive plus/minus of plus-7. It was the 21st time he has scored in double figures this season.
While the Pacers trailed for just 46 seconds of game clock all night, they never completely pulled away from Orlando. The game’s defining stretch ended up coming in the first quarter. Leading 7-6 with 9:21 remaining in the period, Indiana reeled off an 11-0 run that provided a cushion that lasted the rest of the game.
Big Al entered with Indiana up 24-18 and as usual wasted no time getting involved, grabbing a defensive rebound 20 seconds after entering and scoring over Bismack Biyombo on the other end.
In the second quarter, with the Magic having cut their deficit to six with 10:42 until the half, Al scored four straight points. Two came off a pass from Rodney Stuckey and two came off a quick-hands offensive rebound and put-back to push the lead back to double figures.
The Pacers led by as many as 15 in the quarter, but Orlando refused to go away, using an 11-4 run to take the lead to six with 1:53 until the break. Indiana responded with three Jeff Teague free throws and took a nine-point lead into the half.
Indiana continued to respond to the Magic in the third, providing an answer each time the lead dipped into single digits. Orlando was able to put five straight points together though and trailed 72-67 with 3:31 until the fourth quarter. Indiana’s bench entered the game at this point and was able to hold the line with Al and Stuckey both making shots inside the final minute to keep the lead at six entering the final period.
The second unit stayed in the game to start the fourth and, lead by Al, Stuckey, and Glen Robinson III, provided valuable minutes. Al wrapped up his night with two free throws with 6:43 to play that gave Indiana a 89-80 lead.
The Magic continued to hang around and eventually trailed just 93-88 with 1:52 remaining but C.J. Miles drilled a three on the next possession and Myles Turner sank two free throws for the final ten-point margin.
On a night when George was not among the six double figure scorers for the Pacers, he was grateful his teammates picked up the slack.
“It’s great for them to have my back, to take the load off of me,” he said.
The Paces head to Brooklyn for the second and final game of their road trip against the Nets on Friday night. Big Al will be looking to keep his offensive rhythm rolling as he’s averaging 10.9 points over his last ten games. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. EST.