Vucevic, Ross lead surging Magic to 117-112 win at Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Orlando Magic are becoming more confident by the day.
Nikola Vucevic scored 27 points, Terrence Ross added 23 and the surging Magic continued their push for a playoff berth with a 117-112 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
Evan Fournier finished with 19 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Orlando, which shot 51 percent from the field. The Magic are 10-3 in their last 13 games and improved to 30-34, a half-game ahead of Charlotte for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Orlando last qualified for the playoffs in 2012.
Coming off a home win against defending league champion Golden State, coach Steve Clifford’s crew suffered no letdown.
“Right now we’re playing for something, man,” Ross said. “It’s getting fun.”
Bojan Bogadnovic scored 25 points and Darren Collison finished with 23 points and 10 assists for the Pacers, who shot 55 percent.
After Indiana closed within 114-112 with 29.7 seconds left, Orlando worked the shot clock down before Fournier hit a game-sealing 3-pointer from the right wing with 8.4 seconds left.
“You rarely get to the rim late in the game,” Fournier said. “I was just trying to clear space. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I knew a jump shot was coming. It felt good. It’s the most enjoyable thing you can have in basketball: hit a clutch shot and then win the game.”
The Pacers pulled within four points when Collison hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left.
Orlando raced to a 10-0 lead before Indiana steadied itself and tied the score at 27-all at the end of the first quarter.
The Pacers weren’t sluggish for too long. Coming off a 35-assist night in a win over Minnesota, Indiana racked up 18 more on the way to a 60-55 halftime lead.
The Pacers pushed their lead to 10 points in the third, but the Magic scored on five of their final seven possessions and closed within 87-83 entering the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to get back to calm in big situations,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said, “especially the fourth quarter where emotions are high.”
That’s when Ross heated up. He hit a 3-pointer that gave Orlando a 107-102 lead with 4:08 to go. With 1:34 left, Ross drew a three-shot foul and made all the free throws for a 114-107 advantage.
″(Ross) has five points, and then the ‘Human Torch’ changes the whole game,” Fournier said. “He was a huge spark. He comes out of nowhere.”
It was Orlando’s first win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since March 31, 2016.
Magic: Vucevic, who added eight rebounds, received a technical foul during a timeout with 9:14 remaining in the third quarter. ... Vucevic limited center counterpart Myles Turner to 10 points. ... Aaron Gordon had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Magic.
Pacers: All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a right knee injury, tweeted his approval of a first-half highlight-reel dunk by Turner. “OMG!!!! Myles!” Oladipo posted, follow by an eyes-wide-open emoji. ... Backup center Domantas Sabonis, averaging 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds, missed his third straight game because of a sprained left ankle. Indiana coach Nate McMillan said Sabonis has progressed to light workouts.
Magic: Play at Cleveland on Sunday.
Pacers: Conclude a three-game homestand Tuesday against Chicago.