The Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic have played 12 quarters in this series. The first six the Magic seemed to control.
But the last six have been all Pacers, which is what we expected. They are the longer, deeper, more talented team, and it showed Wednesday night. Danny Granger showed up looking like an All-Star with 26 points on 16 shots. Roy Hibbert dominated the paint defensively in the third quarter. The Pacers owned Game 3, winning 97-74, and now are up two games to one in the best of seven series.
Orlando is going to have to find a way to change a lot of things — or just get red hot shooting — because this series feels like it is on its way to a quick end. Which is what we expected even if it didn’t feel like it after Game 1.
Indiana jumped out to a 23-14 lead in the first quarter but to the Magic’s credit they keep it in single digits early and were down just six at the half. Glen Davis played well and had 22 points.
Then the Pacers owned the third quarter — 32-17 — due to good shooting and Hibbert’s defense (he also had 18 points). The game was all but over. Plus, Orlando is a team that needs the three pointers to fall in bunches to win, and they were just 5-for-15.
If Orlando is going to change anything, it needs to be the energy after halftime — Indiana has won the third quarters in this series 80-43.
Mathematically, this series is not over. But the last six quarters have made it feel like what everyone expected — without Dwight Howard this series is all Pacers.
The Magic need to change that perception (and the third quarter) around in Game 4 or it is all over but the streamers falling from the rafters.