Indiana Pacers Stumble, Orlando Magic Steal Game 1 in NBA Playoffs
In a game that saw 17 lead changes, the Indiana Pacers let home court advantage slip away in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs to the injury-riddled Orlando Magic. The Pacers missed 9 free throws and squandered a franchise-topping performance from NBA All-Star center Roy Hibbert, losing a sloppy game to the Magic by a score of 81-77. The Magic battled in a hostile environment without their star player, scoring the last 11 points of the game. No Dwight Howard? No problem.
Indiana head coach Frank Vogel led his team to a 12-3 record in April and was named NBA coach of the month. Vogel spoke to the media after the loss. “We will respond. We didn’t execute. Tonight was about making shots and executing our assignments in crunch time. We played a strong defensive game tonight, there’s no other way to put it. We didn’t score the ball well enough. I don’t think it has anything to do with being the under dog or the favorite. I have every bit of confidence we are going to bounce back.”
Orlando is in the NBA Playoffs for the sixth straight year, which is currently the longest streak in the Eastern Conference. Indiana is making only their second playoff appearance since 2004. The Pacers lost to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the playoffs last season.
The one bright light in the loss was the play of Roy Hibbert. Hibbert had a franchise-high 9 blocks on Saturday night. Hibbert only shot 3-11 from the floor, but added up eight points and 13 rebounds.