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Paul George's 19-point quarter leads Pacers past Magic

By
Jeff Washburn, The Sports Xchange
Indiana Pacers' Paul George shoots a free throw. UPI/John Angelillo
Indiana Pacers' Paul George shoots a free throw. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reminded that he is averaging 30.3 points during Indiana's past four games, Pacers forward Paul George said big numbers aren't his objective.

"I'm just trying to win games," said George, whose 27 points -- including a franchise-record 19 in the first quarter -- led Indiana to a 97-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

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"Tonight, I got going and was able to get some good cuts to the basket. Then late in the game, we were able to force some turnovers that gave us some energy."

Guard George Hill added 23 points, and the Pacers dominated the final 6 1/2 minutes.

Indiana (4-4) won for the fourth time in five games after an 0-3 start. It was the Pacers' 1,000th home-court victory in their NBA franchise history, and Indiana beat the Magic for the fifth consecutive meeting.

The Pacers trailed 81-78, but during the final 6:27, they outscored Orlando 19-3, picking up the defensive pressure.

"In the last five or six minutes, we really picked it up on the defensive end," said Hill, who added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. "Orlando created some tough matchups, but Paul got us started, and I tried to provide a lot of energy coming down the stretch."

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Orlando (3-5) got 21 points from forward Evan Fournier and 15 from guard Victor Oladipo. The Magic shot only 4-for-14 from the field in the final quarter while committing eight turnovers in that span.

George's 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining gave Indiana an 83-81 lead. It was his first field goal of the second half. A 3-pointer by forward Chase Budinger, a Hill layup and two George free throws with 4:10 left pushed the Pacers' lead to 90-81.

"It is very encouraging to see Paul play the way he is playing right now," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "Once he gets going like that, it doesn't make any difference who is on the floor with him ... big guys or small guys.

"Down the stretch, we had a small lineup out there, and that is the one to go with against a team like Orlando that plays a spread offense. We made some good stops, and it also was good to see Budinger step up and make a couple of (3-pointers) tonight. He had been struggling a bit, and we ran a couple of things for him to get him going."

Indiana finished 11 of 25 from 3-point range, 44 percent, with George and Hill combining to make seven of 12 from beyond the arc.

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The Magic entered averaging 103.2 points a game but shot only 39.7 percent from the field (31 of 78) and scored only 13 fourth-quarter points.

"The first seven or eight minutes of the game, I thought Paul George might go for 100 on us," Orlando coach Scott Skiles said. "Our defense was very, very poor. We scrambled around in the third quarter and played better defense, but I don't know how many shots we missed in the restricted area again. We missed tough shots when we had people open all over the place."

Orlando pulled even at 78 with 7:50 remaining on a 3-pointer from Fournier as the result of the Pacers' 17th turnover. Guard C.J. Watson's bucket 22 seconds earlier pulled the Magic within 78-75.

"They played better defense," Fournier said. "Paul George made great plays all night, and they had more energy at the end than we did. You could see the momentum change. When they have it, they make their shots and get all of the 50-50 balls. They are a pretty good team."

The Pacers scored the third quarter's final six points to erase a 71-66 deficit and lead 72-71 on a pair of free throws from Myles Turner. The forward made the fourth quarter's first basket for a 74-71 Indiana lead.

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Indiana led 49-48 through two quarters, getting from Hill in the second.

Guard Elfrid Payton had 11 opening-half points for the Magic, and Fournier and Oladipo each contributed nine.

Indiana, which shot 45.2 percent through two quarters (19 of 42), led by as many as seven in the first half. George and Hill were a combined 10-for-15. The rest of the roster was a collective 9-for-27 (33.3 percent). Orlando, which led by as many as three in the opening half, shot 41.9 percent (18 of 43).

For the game, Indiana outshot Orlando 44.2 percent to 39.7 percent.

NOTES: Magic C Nikola Vucevic (15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds) was out with a sprained right knee. ... The Pacers welcomed the return of G/F C.J. Miles (sore right ankle) and G Rodney Stuckey (sprained right ankle). Miles moved back into the starting lineup and scored nine points. ... With three made 3-pointers Monday, Indiana F Paul George passed Billy Keller for third place on the Pacers' all-time list of 3-pointers made at 509. Keller had 506. ... Orlando entered Monday ranked fourth in the NBA in opponents' field-goal percentage (41 percent) and fourth in blocks per game (6.7). ... Indiana, which ranked seventh in steals at nine per game before Monday, recorded 12 against Orlando. ... The Pacers swept last season's three-game series with Orlando, winning by an average of 14.8 points.

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