Pacers use fourth quarter surge to roll Magic
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Paul George scored 24 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out five assists and the Indiana Pacers took over in the fourth quarter of a 97-87 victory over the Orlando Magic in the season opener for both clubs.
The Pacers maintained the core of last season's squad that took the eventual- champion Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Part of that nucleus, Roy Hibbert, finished with eight points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks before receiving a scare late in the game when he appeared to injure his left knee. He walked away under his own power after rolling around in pain and stayed on the bench for the final five-plus minutes with the outcome no longer in doubt.
Lance Stephenson, starting in place of the injured Danny Granger, chipped in 19 points and David West added 13 for Indiana, which opened the fourth quarter on an 11-1 run to pull away.
The Magic finished an NBA-worst 20-62 last season but stayed competitive Tuesday through three quarters. Their inexperienced but promising roster got a boost with the selection of Victor Oladipo as the No. 2 pick in the draft. The former Indiana Hoosiers All-American totaled 12 points in his debut.
Andrew Nicholson scored 18 points in the first half but was held scoreless after the break for Orlando, which shot just 39 percent from the field.
George beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 69-64 lead, and three consecutive Magic turnovers to start the final frame allowed the hosts to jump in front by double digits.
Luis Scola, acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Suns, connected on a mid-range jumper to give Indiana an 80-65 cushion with under nine minutes to play, and the closest Orlando got from there was 10.
The Pacers poured it on early before the Magic got their feet under them and began chipping away at an early deficit.
Orlando found itself trailing 12-0 just 3:20 into the game but pulled within 23-18 at the end of 12 minutes and took its first lead, 31-29, on E'Twaun Moore's steal and uncontested dunk with 7:44 remaining in the half.
Nicholson had 12 points in the second quarter, which ended with the Magic holding a 44-40 lead, and it was no more than a two-possession contest the entire third quarter.
Granger, who missed all but all but five games last season with a knee injury, will miss approximately three weeks with a strained left calf ... The Magic were without their starting forwards in Tobias Harris (ankle) and Glen Davis (foot) ... Mo Harkless netted 14 points for the Magic ... The Pacers committed 21 turnovers to Orlando's 19 ... Orlando had won seven of its previous 10 in Indianapolis.
10/29 21:51:33 ET