Dwight Howard became the Orlando Magic's all-time leading scorer, and was among five Magic players that scored in double digits in limited minutes as Orlando rebounded from a historically poor game on Monday before to beat the Indiana Pacers 102-83 on the road Tuesday night. After getting embarrassed the night before, being held to 56 measly points by the Boston Celtics, Orlando started slow again, but the its bench stabilized the game and began to turn the momentum around at last for the Magic.
The Pacers went on a 17-4 run early in the first quarter, but then the Magic outscored the Pacers 91-62 the rest of the way. The Pacers could offer no more rebuttals against the Magic attack than 6-1, 5-0 and 6-0 runs after their initial outburst as the Magic defense clamped down. Meanwhile, the Magic was able to snap off three 10+ point runs to catch and pass the Pacers early in the second quarter.
Defense was key for Orlando, as it held Indiana to under 34 percent shooting after an 11-19 (58 percent) first quarter. That strong defense created easier basket opportunities for the Magic as they had one transition play in the first quarter and 14 the rest of the game, including nine in the second half. Against Boston, even with plenty of garbage time, they could muster only six of these plays, converting a single basket.
Ryan Anderson led the Magic with 24 points after not registering a field goal for the first time in his career when playing 20+ minutes on Monday. Howard missed a lot of the first half with foul trouble so he and Anderson were the only starters to log major minutes in the fourth quarter.
For the Pacers, the first quarter was all about the play of Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert. Both players scored 10 points in the first quarter and 16 for the game, with Hibbert shooting 2-11 and Granger 1-6 after their pinnacles early in the game.
Nathan S. highlights the missed opportunity Indiana had to capitalize on their strong first quarter at Indy Cornrows:
So when Lou Amundson drew Howard's third foul at the beginning of the second quarter, it looked like the Pacers were in prime position to blow the game wide open and stay undefeated at home. But as Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert rested, the Magic kept the game within striking distance before rattling off a 10-0 run to give them a 41-39 lead as the teams went into the half knotted at 45, leaving the blue and gold feeling like they wasted a huge opportunity.
Meanwhile, Evan Dunlap at Orlando Pinstriped Post notes Howard's all-time moment:
At the 9:59 mark of the third, Howard darted down the lane, took a pass from--who else?--Hedo Turkoglu, and threw down a dunk on Roy Hibbert to bring his career scoring total to 10,561, one ahead of Nick Anderson on Orlando's franchise list.