On Sunday night, the Orlando Magic’s Serge Ibaka made his return to Oklahoma City a memorable one with 31 points, including the game-winning shot. On Monday, Magic coach and former Pacers’ boss Frank Vogel made his return to Indiana. It was not a happy homecoming as the Pacers beat the Magic 88-69.
Ibaka helped to will his team to victory on the court on Sunday, highlighting the biggest difference in the two homecomings: Vogel could not contribute on the floor, but could only watch from the sideline. Ibaka was held to only six points on three-of-13 shooting.
Orlando scored 50 fewer points than they did the previous night, thanks to enough misfires that led to 32 percent shooting. The Magic made only 27 of 84 shots and had only 12 assists, while turning the ball over 14 times.
A case could be made for a weary Orlando team. After playing a tough, emotional game in Oklahoma City, they arrived in Indianapolis in the wee hours of the morning and played another tough road game.
That is a case no one in the Magic locker room will make. Every team plays the same amount of back-to-back games, so they will not use that as an excuse.
Sure, they were tired, but these are the situations where depth on the bench is crucial. Starters often need a couple of minutes more to get their breath.
Only Evan Fournier, who led the team in scoring with 14 points, played more than 30 minutes (33). Vogel got some strong play off the bench from Aaron Gordon and good efforts from Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin.
The fresher Pacers could give most of their starters 30 minutes or more. Four of them scored in double figures.
“Obviously, it’s always harder to play on a back-to-back, but it’s not the only reason,” said Fournier.
The Magic trailed by only 41-37 at halftime, but were outscored 47-32 in the second half. After the Magic took their largest lead at 19-13 in the first period, they were outscored 75-50 the rest of the way.
“I’m very disappointed in how we played tonight,” said Vogel.
It should be easy to put this game in the rearview mirror and move forward, but a troubling trend continued. Nikola Vucevic is in a big time slump.
He was only one for 10 from the field for two points. He has now missed 27 of his last 32 shots over the past three games. Orlando desperately needs him to find the shooting touch to which the Magic, and Vucevic, have grown accustomed.
He will get his next chance on Wednesday. That is when the 4-7 Magic host the New Orleans Pelicans at the Amway Center.