NBA

George with strong night as Pacers earn victory over Magic

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Associated Press
3/8/2013 9:59:05 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Indiana's offence had no problem handling Danny Granger's absence on Friday night.

Paul George had 25 points and Tyler Hansbrough added 18 as the Pacers used a big first half to roll past the Orlando Magic 115-86.

Indiana scored 30 points off 21 Orlando turnovers and also connected on 11 3-pointers in the victory.

The offensive eruption came after a late-game offensive meltdown against Boston on Wednesday night that ended in a last-second loss.

"It's important," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of having a bounce-back win. "We felt like we let a game slip away clearly. ... This league is about how you respond to situations like that. And we responded in a big time way."

The Pacers ended a three-game regular-season losing streak to the Magic. It was also their second straight game without Granger, who is expected to miss a week resting a sore left knee.

Indiana was equally tough on the defensive end, where it came in allowing 89.5 points per game.

The Pacers' attention now turns to a Sunday trip to Miami, where the Pacers will look to wrap up a 3-0 regular-season sweep. They were also the last team to beat the Heat, who ran their winning streak to 17 games on Friday night.

"We hit some shots," Hansbrough said. "We were on point tonight. I was trying to take it one game at a time. But now that it's over, I'm excited about going down there. It'll be a fun game. They're rolling and I'm excited about it."

Arron Afflalo had 19 points to lead the Magic, who looked to be gaining some traction after narrowly missing an upset of Miami on Wednesday.

The Magic have lost five of their past six and haven't posted a home win since Feb. 10.

Coach Jacque Vaughn said his team never overcame their mistakes.

"They capitalized on it and then some of those turnovers were ... something that we have been taking care of pretty much over the past few games turnover-wise. But not tonight," he said.

Indiana struggled offensively in its 11-point loss in Orlando in January, but had no repeat issues on Friday as it built a 26-point lead early in the second half.

The biggest improvement came at the 3-point line, where they connected on 11 of 19 attempts.

The Magic attempted to shake up their lineup Friday by starting Tobias Harris at power forward in place of rookie Andrew Nicholson.

Harris, in his second year out of Tennessee, made his first start in a Magic uniform since coming over from Milwaukee in a trade deadline deal.

He came in averaging nearly 17 points in his first seven games, but struggled against the Pacers' David West, who enticed him into quick fouls at the beginning of each half. Harris finished with just seven points in 21 minutes.

"They're a tall, long team, so they take up a lot of the lane," Harris said. "I thought tonight we should have got out on the break more and run them. They're a team with a lot of size. Just space the court. That's something we've got to work on."

With just a short trek down to South Beach now, George said he's looking forward to testing himself against the East's top team.

He also knows the Heat will be out to keep their winning streak going.

"We're excited for the matchup," he said. "We know it's going to be a tough game. They've been playing so well. And we being the last team that beat them, we know everybody's going to be up for that game. It should be a fun game to watch."

Notes: It was the Pacers' first regular-season victory in Orlando since December 2007. ... Orlando is 9-24 at home. ... The addition of Harris marked the Magic's 20th different starting unit they've used this season. ... Orlando celebrated Noche Latina, in appreciation of its Hispanic fan base, by wearing "El Magic" jerseys for the first of three games this season. The Magic will also wear the jerseys in their March 22 home game against Oklahoma City and the March 25 matchup with Miami.

Paul George (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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