By John Denton
July 1, 2017
ORLANDO – Once down as many as 20 points, the Orlando Magic came storming back to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter before fading late and losing 85-74 to the Indiana Pacers.
Orlando (0-1) trailed 44-24 late in the second quarter, but got even with Indiana (1-0) at 69 with 6:20 to play in first-day action of the Mountain Dew Orlando Pro Summer League. From there, the Pacers regained control with a 9-0 run and held on for the victory.
Naz Long, an undrafted guard out of Iowa State, drilled two 3-pointers during the victory-sealing 9-0 burst. He had 16 points and four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench for the Pacers. Travis Leslie was also solid in a reserve role, chipping in 20 points, eight rebounds and two 3-pointers.
The game marked the professional debut for Magic rookie Jonathan Issac, who had seven points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots in nearly 22 minutes of action. However, it was Orlando’s comeback that stole the storyline. The Magic outscored the Pacers 30-20 in the third period to wipe out its poor play in the second quarter (21-10).
“We really competed. We were down 18 at half and I think it was 20 early in the game, but Wesley (Igundu) hit a shot to tie it at 69 somewhere around the mindpoint of the fourth,’’ Magic Summer League coach Chad Forcier said. “To be sitting there and not have any timeouts and not able to stop the bleeding, our guys had to go out and get it done themselves. They kept playing, kept trying to get stops and they got back into the game.’’
Saturday’s action was the start of the six-team, 20-game summer league action at Orlando’s Amway Center. Play continues each of the next five days through Thursday with each team scheduled to play five times.
Isaac, the No. 6 pick in last week’s NBA Draft by the Magic, officially signed his first pro contract about 20 minutes prior to tipoff on Saturday and then had to battle nerves in his first game. Three minutes into the game and not long after drilling his first pro basket, Isaac had to ask out of the game because he was gasping for air – a byproduct of his nerves, he said.
“(The nerves) were definitely there in the beginning and once I hit my first shot I had to get out (of the game) because all that nervous energy left me and I was out of breath,’’ said Isaac, a 19-year-old forward. “Once I figured out how physical the game was and how it was going to be, I translated that.’’
Indiana suffered a potentially serious blow in the game’s first minute when forward Georges Niang lost his shoe and went down clutching his left knee. Niang, who appeared in 23 NBA games for the Pacers this past season, did not return to Saturday’s game after needing assistance to get to the trainers’ room.
Joe Young and Trey McKinney each scored 11 points and drilled two 3-pointers for Indiana, which shot 43.1 percent from the floor for the game.
Derrick Walton Jr. and Matt Costello played well in Orlando’s rally and scored 10 and seven points, respectively. Marcus Georges-Hunt, who finished last season as a NBA call-up by the Magic, added 10 points in 23 minutes.
Indiana led 44-26 at the half after building a lead as large as 20 points in the first 20 minutes. The Pacers started quickly on the offensive end, making eight of their first 11 shots and 10 of 18 with three 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Conversely, the Magic were a mess on the offensive end in the early going. They hit just nine of their first 31 shots (29 percent) and shot 28.6 percent in the first half.
Isaac missed a mid-range try on his first shot as a pro, but converted minutes later when he sank an open 3-pointer from the top of the key. Isaac’s best highlight of the first half came when he came across the lane to swat a Jarnell Stokes’ layup out of the air after teammate Stephen Zimmerman had been beaten off the dribble. Stokes was otherwise solid all day for the Pacers, chipping in 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
McKinney-Jones (10 points), Leslie (nine points) and Young (eight points) hurt Orlando with their shooting in the first half. They combined to make all five of Indy’s first-half 3-point shots.
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