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Magic's 3-point barrage buries Pacers

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO - The Indiana Pacers have built their surprising success this season on the ability to defend, and particularly on defending the 3-point shot.

Their strategy was blown apart Wednesday night.

The Orlando Magic torched the Pacers 97-86, using a flurry of 3-point shots to roll through the NBA's top-rated defensive team.

The Magic hit a season high 12 3-pointers, the most any team has made against the Pacers this season, and coasted to one of their easiest victories.

Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 16 points and 15 rebounds, but it was the long-range burst by J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson that broke down Indiana's defense.

Redick and Nelson had 14 points apiece, and each made four of his six 3-point attempts. Paul George had 20 points for the Pacers, who trailed through the final three periods. George Hill had 15 points.

"They just got completely red-hot from the perimeter," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "We kept them out of the paint, and kept them off the free throw line, but they drilled us from the perimeter with their shooting."

The Magic won easily, despite setting a franchise record for fewest free throws attempted (five) in a single game. They did make all five, though.

"That's the unbelievable part of team basketball," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "We talked about being unselfish. A lot of them probably could have been good shots, but we turned them into great shots with an extra pass."

The Pacers, who won by 27 points Tuesday night in Charlotte, came into the game allowing opponents to shoot only 31.6 percent from 3-point range. They also were leading the NBA in fewest points allowed (88.9 points per game), but they looked pedestrian Wednesday night.

"Typically, I think they defend a little better," Redick said. "That's kind of their bread and butter. But that's where we had the advantage tonight. Our offense was crisp. We were moving the ball. And when you do that, shots fall."

The Magic hit 12-of-21 from long range. The Pacers made only two of 17 from behind the 3-point line.

The Magic, who had lost 11 of their previous 12 games, were coming off a dreadful performance Monday in Washington, which made Wednesday's victory more than a little surprising.

"That's the NBA. When we're full throttle, we can play with the best of them," said Magic forward Glen Davis, who had 11 points in his first start in almost a month. "We've got to get back to our winning ways."

It was the eighth consecutive game in which Vucevic had at least 12 rebounds. It also was his eighth consecutive game of double figures in both points and rebounds.

The Magic led by as many as 21 points in the third period, getting four consecutive 3-point baskets from Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Josh McRoberts and Redick.

The Magic led 51-35 at intermission, capitalizing on a 3-point burst in the second period when they made five of their eight attempts. They led by as many as 17 points in the first half after a slow start. The Pacers led by as many as seven in the first quarter.

George led everyone with 14 points in the first half. Davis had nine points in the opening period, showing no sign of any problems with his shoulder.

Nelson, who was bothered by a left hip injury earlier this season, left the game briefly with a limp after getting clipped trying to run through a screen, but he returned to start the second half.

NOTES: Vogel said before Wednesday's game that the key to his team's defensive prowess is "length." The Pacers were allowing the fewest points, the lowest field goal percentage (.411) and the lowest 3-point field goal percentage (.316) in the league. "We're probably the longest team in the league," Vogel said. "When you have length defensively, you have a lot of options, a lot of weapons. We also have guys who play hard every night. Not every team has that." ... Davis was back in the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 19 when he sprained his left shoulder and missed the next 11 games. Davis returned to action Sunday as a reserve. Without him in the starting lineup, the Magic were 1-11. ... Vogel said that Pacers forward Danny Granger is still a couple of weeks away from playing his first game this season. Granger hasn't played since the preseason when he went out with a sore left knee. "With him last season, we were one of the top 10 teams offensively," he said. "If we can get to that point again, we'd have a chance to do something special." ... This was the first meeting between the two teams since the Pacers beat the Magic, 4-1, in the first round of the playoffs.
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