The official scoreboard read 97-86, but this game was not close from midway through the second quarter. When the game began, it looked like it was going to be an easy night for the Pacers as the starters eased their way to a 15-8 lead. Enter the Pacers reserves and in a matter of minutes the Pacers were staring at a 17-point deficit. They never recovered.
This was a nightmarish game that once again exposed the Pacers' pathetic bench. The Magic are not a very good team, but they at least have guys off the bench who can generate some offense, like JJ Reddick, E'Twaun Moore and yes, former Pacer Josh McRoberts. The Pacers had no one tonight -- and don't be fooled by the 10 points apiece by Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Green because 16 of the 20 points they scored together came after coach Frank Vogel pulled the plug with around six minutes left in the game.
Vogel has been a good coach, but this was one of those nights where he needed to tell the bench players they were simply not getting it done and play his starters heavy minutes. The Pacers actually had a chance to come back after closing the third quarter with a run to pull within 13 points. But then Vogel subsituted some bench guys in and instead of getting closer the lead jumped back out to 19.
Strangely, Vogel gave up on the game with 6:24 left on the clock and the Pacers down by 19. It's a big gap, for sure, but not an impossible one by NBA standards, especially if he put all 5 starters back in.
Anyway, the Pacers have now lost 2 of 3 and will face the Houston Rockets at home before their 4-game road trip out west. Danny Granger can't return soon enough.