Oladipo fuels Pacers’ win over Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. — Victor Oladipo doesn’t need to tell everyone he was thrilled with the offseason trade that brought him back to the state of Indiana.
He just shows it with the way he plays every night.
Oladipo led the Indiana Pacers once again Monday, producing a game-high 29 points and adding nine rebounds and seven steals in a 105-97 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Oladipo’s dramatic improvement in his fifth NBA season has been the spark to the recent surge by the surprising and rebuilt Pacers (10-8). Indiana won its fourth consecutive game.
“Every night fuels me this season,” Oladipo said. “Every night I put on this uniform, the competitive juices start flowing. I can’t wait to compete with the best. The sky is the limit for this team.”
Oladipo, who averaged 15.9 points last season in Oklahoma City, is averaging a team-high 22.9 points, playing with an air of leadership he never showed in his previous four NBA seasons.
Oladipo, who started his career in Orlando as the No. 2 pick of the 2013 draft, is the first University of Indiana product to play for the Pacers since 1992. He has taken that honor seriously.
The Pacers may have traded away All-Star Paul George to the Thunder, but they found a better-than-expected replacement.
“He’s taken the leadership role every night with this team,” Indiana guard Lance Stephenson said. “You can see it in the way he plays, the way he works every day.”
Forward Bojan Bogdanovic had 26 points, including 24 in the second half, to provide the perfect balance for Oladipo’s slashing, high-energy style.
The Pacers won for the fifth time in six games. The Magic (8-9) lost their fifth consecutive game, scoring just 42 points in the second half.
The Pacers never trailed after grabbing the lead early in the third quarter, scoring 26 points off 22 Orlando turnovers.
“Nobody’s happy with how we’re playing now,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “We know we have to dig ourselves out of a rut here. Credit Indiana. They come in a lot of different ways and do a great job of forcing turnovers.”
Oladipo hit 12 of his 14 free throws. Bogdanovic made five of his seven 3-point attempts.
Thaddeus Young scored 17 points and Domantas Sabonis had 10 for the Pacers.
Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 25 points and 13 rebounds. He hit three of his six 3-point attempts.
Evan Fournier scored 16 points and made four of his eight 3-point tries for Orlando. Aaron Gordon had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and reserves Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin each scored 10 points.
“We went away in the second half from what was working for us,” Vucevic said. “We lost our rhythm and started overdribbling. We just got too stagnant. I don’t know why.”
The Magic pulled within 98-95 with 49 seconds remaining on a basket by Gordon, but Bogdanovic responded with a 3-pointer and Oladipo added his final two free throws to end any threat.
The Pacers led 78-72 going into the fourth quarter after Oladipo got nine points and two steals in the third quarter, erasing their five-point halftime deficit.
The Magic were on top 55-50 at intermission after closing the second quarter with an 11-0 run that included consecutive baskets by Vucevic, who led all players with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Magic led despite committing 14 first-half turnovers, including six in the first five minutes.
Reserve Marreese Speights hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second quarter and give the Magic a 37-34 lead.
Oladipo had 13 points, and Young and Sabonis each scored 10 in the first two quarters.
The Pacers led by as many as six points late in the second quarter before the late Magic rally.
NOTES: The Pacers beat the Magic for the 16th time in the past 18 meetings. ... Magic rookie F Jonathan Isaac missed his fourth consecutive game because of a sprained right ankle. ... The Magic recalled rookies Khem Birch (UNLV) and Wes Iwundu (Kansas State) from their G League team in Lakeland, Fla. ... C Myles Turner believes a lot of people underestimated what the Pacers could do this season after trading away F Paul George. “The camaraderie on this team is incredible,” Turner said. “I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet.” ... The Magic start a four-game road trip Wednesday in Minnesota. The Pacers return home to face Toronto on Friday.