Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Postgame Media Availability: Nov. 19, 2022
The final offensive sequence illustrated the toughness the Indiana Pacers played with against the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
Down by a point, with 9.6 seconds left in the game, the Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith rose up from a crowd of 7-footers underneath the basket, pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled. Nesmith then went to the line, hit both of his free throws to push himself to a career-high 19 points, and helped the Pacers (9-6) to a 114-113 victory.
The Pacers have now won four straight games and eight of the last 10 games.
During the season of giving, the Pacers have been at their best when everyone gets a piece of the pie.
Six players scored in double figures for Indiana, which was on the second leg of a back-to-back, like the Magic (5-12). This season, in games where the Pacers have six players scoring no fewer than 10 points, they’re now 6-0.
“I think everybody here wants to win, wants to get better and everybody plays hard,” Nesmith said. “That’s what’s really helping us win these games and closing out tight games and making comebacks. We play hard, we trust each other, we trust the work we put in practice and it has paid off.”
The Magic – missing seven players due to injury – started three players over 6-foot-10 in the game, including two players over 7-0 in Bol Bol (7-2) and Mo Bamba (7-0). Magic guard Franz Wagner is 6-10.
Orlando made four of its first five shots off the opening tip – including 3-pointers by Jalen Suggs and Bamba – to lead the Pacers 10-1 just under two minutes in.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton then got the Pacers’ offense on track, draining a 3-pointer, hitting a midrange jumper and finishing a contested layup at the rim to trim the deficit to 14-12 with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
An 8-0 Magic run put the visitors back up by 10 points by the 3:41-mark, but the Blue & Gold were able to chip away again, cutting it to 28-22 after Aaron Nesmith hit a trey and rookie Bennedict Mathurin drained two 3-pointers – including one leaning in at the top of the arc at the buzzer – by the end of 12 minutes.
The Pacers brought the score within a point at 35-34 with 8:23 left in the first half, but the Magic responded with an 11-2 run behind two dunks from Bamba with 4:35 on the clock.
Out of a timeout, the Pacers again got back on track going on a 9-1 run on two 3-pointers from Buddy Hield. Haliburton then at the buzzer got nothing but net on a half-court heave, but the Pacers trailed 55-51 at halftime.
At the break, Haliburton and Bamba were the only two players scoring in double digits, both with 13 points.
The Magic shot 22-for-52 (6-for-17) and the Pacers shot 18-for-45 (8-for-22 3-pointers) in the first half. In the paint, the Magic outscored the Pacers 24-18.
While Hield opened the second half with a 3-pointer, the Magic strung together a 7-0 scoring streak to go up 63-54.
Like clockwork, the Pacers responded, making it a one possession game at 70-68 at the halfway mark after a trey by Jalen Smith and a fastbreak bucket from Haliburton.
From 4:08 to 2:06 in the third quarter, the fieldhouse was rocking as the Pacers went on a 10-0 run, behind two 3-pointers from Nesmith, a hook shot by Smith and an alley-oop dunk from Mathurin, to take an 87-77 lead.
At the end of 24 minutes, the Pacers led 89-84 after outscoring the visitors 38-29 on 15-for-22 shooting (7-for-14 3-point) in the third quarter.
The Magic took advantage of some cold Pacers shooting midway through the fourth quarter, going on a 10-0 run on five points by Bol and a 3-pointer from RJ Hampton, to retake the lead 101-98 with 5:33 left in the game.
After Haliburton reentered the game, the Pacers went on a 9-2 run, with five points by him and four by Turner, as the Pacers led 107-103 with 3:37 on the clock.
The teams battled back-and-forth down the stretch, including two late 3-pointers from Wagner to put the Magic back ahead, but the Pacers came up with the clutch win.
“We’re going to be a ‘do your job’ team, and don’t try to do anything that is super speculative out there,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said.
On top of Nesmith’s 19 points, Haliburton had 22 points and 14 assists and Turner had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Other double-digit scorers included Hield (15), Smith (14) and Mathurin (12). Turner has now recorded a double-double in five-straight games, with six overall, while Haliburton has nine double-doubles.
Wagner topped the Magic with 29 points, Bol scored 22 and Bamba finished with 21.
From the field, the Pacers shot 41-for-90 (18-for-46 3-point shots) while the Magic made 39 of 91 (16-for-42 3-point) shots. The Pacers won the rebounding battle 42-41 but lost the turnover margin 15-9 after recording 11 turnovers in the first half.
In the paint, the Pacers turned it around in the second half, outscoring the Magic 42-36 at the final buzzer.
The two teams will play again Monday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Inside the Numbers
Turner has recorded a double-double in five of his last six games.
Haliburton continues to lead all NBA guards in double-doubles with nine. Each of them have been achieved with points and assists.
Orlando made 16 3-pointers against the Pacers, above its team season average of 10 3-pointers made per game. The Magic also had 22 fast break points, well above their average of 8.5 per game, which is the worst in the league.
You Can Quote Me On That
“We’re growing together as a group, getting better every day (and) becoming closer on and off the floor. That’s allowed us to have trust in each other to play these games.” – Haliburton on closing out tight games
“These guys have fun together and they pull for each other, and we have very good locker room chemistry. Tyrese sets the tone for a lot of that. But it’s not just him, James Johnson, who you don’t hear much about, has given us a very strong locker room presence. He manages a lot of the stuff that goes on there, he makes sure that guys are thinking the right way and we are ready to play. He’s super supportive, always saying the right things and has been an asset for us.” – Carlisle on the team chemistry
“In an NBA world where it’s pretty cool these days to sit out games, he didn’t want to hear about sitting out tonight.” Carlisle on Haliburton playing after injuring his ankle Friday
“I was just really just focusing on finding my rhythm. Coming back from injury, I came to the gym early and got some shots up – just trying to work on the looks I get in the game.” – Nesmith on scoring 19 despite not scoring in three of the last five games
Stat of the Night
Nesmith, who is in his first year with the Pacers, scored a career-high 19 points off the bench. His previous high-point game for the Pacers was 15 against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 19. Last year, with the Boston Celtics, he scored 18 points against the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft, did not play in the game due to a left ankle sprain. He has played in 11 of the Magic’s games this season. Since Banchero has not played in 70 percent of Orlando’s games this season, he is not currently qualified for the NBA rookie leaderboards. That makes Mathurin the highest-scoring rookie in the league, averaging 19.6 points per game.
- Gary Harris, a Fishers native who attended Hamilton Southeastern High School, also did not play in the game. Harris, who made his season debut on Friday against the Chicago Bulls, didn’t play as he’s recovering from a left knee injury.
- The Pacers are 3-0 on the second legs of back-to-backs this season.
The Pacers host their second straight game against Franz Wagner and the Orlando Magic on Monday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 PM ET Find Tickets >>