Warren’s hot hand sends Pacers past Magic for 3rd straight
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — T.J. Warren scored 32 points, tying Jermaine O’Neal’s franchise record for most in a three-game span, to send the Indiana Pacers past the Orlando Magic 120-109 on Tuesday for their third consecutive victory.
Warren has topped the 30-point mark in each game at Walt Disney World, starting with his 53-point outburst in the opener. He has 119 points (39.7 per game) in the restart.
“I’m just really in rhythm,” Warren said. “Really picking my spots and really just staying efficient. It was an all-around team effort and I’m just doing my part, doing what I’m capable of doing.”
Myles Turner added 21 points for the Pacers.
Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, whose season-best, five-game winning streak ended. Aaron Gordon added 20 points for Orlando, trying to claim its second straight playoff appearance for the first time since a six-year run ended in 2011-12.
The Magic never had a chance Tuesday, though.
“I can’t even tell you how disappointing it is,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. “You have to commit to things in this league, especially this time of year. We had been before the break, the first two games and again, tonight, it’s unacceptable.”
Warren again proved to be the catalyst as the Pacers scored the first 10 points and needed less than five minutes to take a 17-3 lead. They made it 43-20 after one and led by as much as 26 before Orlando righted itself in the second half.
The Magic opened the third quarter with eight straight points and eventually cut the deficit to 78-66 after back-to-back baskets from Vucevic. But Indiana responded with a 10-2 spurt to make it 88-68 and Orlando couldn’t get closer than 12 until the final minute.
“I think the team is playing in a flow,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “Even though we’ve had different combinations, we’ve got really good ball movement. T.J. - the ball is finding him and he’s knocking down a high percentage of his shots. Just real efficient right now.”
Magic: Have been swept by the Pacers in three of the last four seasons. ... The Magic fell to 6-2 all-time on neutral courts. ... Orlando played its first game in the bubble without Jonathan Isaac (torn left ACL). ... Gordon also had seven rebounds and three assists. ... Terrence Ross had 20 points, James Ennis III had 12 and Markelle Fultz finished with 10. ... The game also marked the end of a franchise-record, five-game streak of scoring 120 or more points.
Pacers: Indiana had a season-high scoring total in the first quarter and a season-best 71 points in the first half. ... Warren has scored at least 20 points in four of the last six halves. ... Turner and Warren each made four 3-pointers. Turner had six rebounds. ... Victor Oladipo scored 13 points while Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell each had 12 points. ... The Pacers finished with 29 assists, seven turnovers and two offensive rebounds.
MAKING ADJUSTMENTS The Pacers have continued winning even without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, who is getting treatment for a foot injury in Indianapolis.
Without their top rebounder, the Pacers decided to spread the floor and play faster by mostly using a three-guard lineup that has worked wonders so far.
“We’re trying to take advantage of the lineups we have out there,” McMillan said. “I think we’ve done a good job of connecting out there and we’ve got guys that can put the ball in the basket when we move the ball.”
THEY SAID IT
Magic: “We played a mindless game, mindless,” Clifford said.
Pacers: “I think a lot of it you have to attribute to everyone came in in really good shape and was ready to hoop, and we’re really playing well together as we have all season,” Turner said. “And T.J. Warren is on a tear.”
Magic: Play their only back-to-back in the bubble Wednesday against Toronto.
Pacers: Face Phoenix on Thursday, seeking a third consecutive season sweep.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports