Paul George scored 24 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots while Roy Hibbert added eight points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks as the Pacers started the season off with a 97-87 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The Pacers scored the first 12 points of the NBA season, racing out to an early lead over the Magic in the very first game of the NBA season.
The Magic, led by reserve power forward Andrew Nicholson, quickly climbed back into the game and even earned their first lead at the 7:43 mark in the second quarter. After exchanging one-point leads a couple of times, the Magic extended the margin to four, 44-40 at halftime. Nicholson had 18 points on eight-of-nine shooting with three rebounds at the half. Pacers center Roy Hibbert had 15 rebounds at the break.
The second half started much like the first. The Pacers scored the first seven points of the quarter to take a three-point lead. As the quarter was coming to close, the Magic trailed by just one. With six seconds left, they were called for delay of game. David West hit the technical free throw and Paul George followed that up by burying a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Pacers a 69-64 lead.
The Magic would never recover.
The Pacers started the fourth quarter on an 11-1 run and cruised from there.
Both teams were missing key contributors. Veteran forward Danny Granger is nursing a calf injury for the Pacers while Magic forward Tobias Harris, who led the team in scoring after he was acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in a trade involving guard J.J. Redick last season, did not make the trip because of an ankle injury.
Rookie guard Victor Oladipo, the number two pick in the draft, provided some excitement for Magic fans. When he checked into the game, he received a standing ovation from the Indiana crowd – Oladipo spent three years playing for the Indiana Hoosiers. He finished with 12 points and three rebounds.
Nicholson did not score in the second half.
The size and length of the Pacers seemed to both the Magic all night. The Pacers blocked 18 Magic shots and won the rebounding battle 44-39.
Both teams will be back in action Wednesday. The Pacers will be in New Orleans to take on the Pelicans while the Magic will travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves.