Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  By KEN HORNACK  |  Last updated 10/29/13
The Orlando Magic knew they would face a formidable task in beginning their season on the road against a team that took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite a horrid start in which they fell behind 12-0, the Magic wound up playing the Indiana Pacers on even terms for the better part of the first three quarters. But the final 12 minutes were a different matter, and the Pacers pulled away for a 97-87 victory. Other than second-year forward Andrew Nicholson, who scored all 18 of his points in the first half, the Magic struggled against the Pacers, who were second in the NBA last season in points allowed per game (90.7). Even if Tobias Harris were available instead of being sidelined with a sprained left ankle, it's doubtful his presence would have changed the outcome. Victor Oladipo had his moments in his debut. Playing in front of a crowd that included Tom Crean, his college coach at Indiana, the rookie guard came off the bench with 5:38 to go in the first quarter and knocked down a 3-pointer less than three minutes later. He also threw down a thunderous dunk in the third quarter off a steal by E'Twaun Moore to give the Magic a 58-57 lead. Moore's jump shot with 2:16 to go in the quarter put the Magic ahead for the last time at 63-62. The turning point Paul George's 3-point field goal at the buzzer over Ronnie Price, who had entered the game for the first time as a member of the Magic minutes earlier, put the Pacers up 69-64 entering the fourth quarter. Using that as a springboard, the Pacers opened the quarter on an 11-1 run to take their first double-digit lead since the early going. Reserves Orlando Johnson, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi did the bulk of the damage. The difference maker Pacers center Roy Hibbert outplayed Nikola Vucevic from the opening tip. Although Hibbert cooled off considerably when it came to rebounds after grabbing 12 (including six at the offensive end) in the first quarter, he finished with seven blocked shots. The highest number of blocks recorded by a Magic opponent last season was 12. The Pacers had 18, including five by David West. Stat of the night The Magic attempted 10 free throws, compared with 32 for the Pacers. What's next Wednesday night at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida). The Magic have won eight of the past nine meetings with the Timberwolves, but expectations are high in Minnesota for the first time in close to a decade.
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