ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The Indiana Pacers have played 13 of their first 19 games away from home. It doesn't seem to be bothering them much.
Danny Granger scored 24 points and Indiana beat the Orlando Magic 106-85 on Sunday night, earning its eighth road victory of the season to tie Chicago and Oklahoma City for most in the NBA.
David West and George Hill each had 16 points as Indiana dominated the second half in the paint and from outside to cruise to the victory.
The Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak to the Magic and avoided dropping consecutive games for the first time this season.
``We do react well to adversity,' Granger said. ``I think that's a sign of a really good team. We've said after every loss we've had, `We don't want to lose two in a row.' And we haven't yet.'
After a slow start Indiana finished with a 16-2 edge in second-chance points and got 42 points from its bench. The Pacers also went 8 for 17 from 3-point range, just about offsetting Orlando's 10 3-pointers.
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 24 points and 13 rebounds, but was a dismal 4 for 15 from the free throw line. Chris Duhon added 14 points and Jason Richardson 13.
The Magic's loss marked their first three-game skid of the season. It came after a horrendous week in which they endured a pair of losses by 25 points or more.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wasn't shy before the game in describing last week as one of the worst stretches he could recall during his tenure in Orlando.
A pair of demoralizing losses to Boston and another at struggling New Orleans left Howard even questioning his team's effort.
Things could get worse, too. The Magic play at Philadelphia on Monday, continuing a stretch of six games in eight nights.
``We're in a real tough stretch and guys are playing poorly,' Van Gundy said. ``I don't know what else we can do. ... It's easy to find the reasons. The hard part is to make it better. That's frustrating to me as a coach.'
The Pacers erased a three-point Magic halftime lead and built as much as a 23-point advantage in the fourth quarter.
Howard had Orlando's first basket of the period to get the Magic within 10, but wasn't allowed many field goal attempts rest of the way as the Pacers opted to foul him whenever he got the ball deep underneath.
He fed into the strategy, going 1 for 4 from the free throw line in the quarter before going to the bench with 4:20 to play.
The Magic tried to keep pace by making 3s, but couldn't find the accuracy they had in the first half. They also were slowed by 19 turnovers that led to 21 Pacers points.
Indiana point guard Darren Collison, who had 11 points and 10 assists, said the Pacers have experienced a growth in mental toughness that has roots in last season.
``I think it's improved since last year,' he said. ``I think the playoffs helped us and it carried over for this season.'
Nine Magic turnovers in the first 8 minutes of the game helped the Pacers build as much as a 15-point lead in the first half.
Indiana's bench was also active with 28 first-half points, led by Hill's 13.
Orlando got back in the game late in the second quarter, though, using an 18-2 run over the final 5 minutes to take a 51-48 lead into the locker room.
The Magic had no turnovers in the final 7:25 of the half, with Howard carrying the offense with 14 points, along with 11 from Ryan Anderson and 10 from Richardson.
``We have to muster up the courage, and the courage and the fortitude to reach inside ourselves and figure out how tough we are ... and be better,' Magic guard J.J. Redick said.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after the tough loss to Boston, seeing immediate resilience from his team left him feeling ``very proud of our guys.'
``It is a lot of fun to win and be one of the top teams right now,' Granger said. ``We are playing together and that is the biggest thing. We have so much talent now. We are in position to really contend for the East.'
NOTES: Magic point guard Jameer Nelson wasn't in the building, sidelined with concussion-like symptoms after taking an inadvertent blow to the head and jaw in Orlando's loss at New Orleans on Friday. He won't travel with the team to Philadelphia and is day-to-day. ... To avoid Super Bowl traffic, Orlando originally planned to fly into Indianapolis for its Feb. 4 matchup with the Pacers on the day of the game. But the NBA is requiring the Magic to fly to Cincinnati following their Feb. 3 home game against Cleveland and then travel to Indianapolis the next day. ``I don't even need to comment on that,' Van Gundy said of the odd travel schedule. ``You guys can comment on that and save me my money. When you come out with a schedule in December, and have a game in a Super Bowl city, lodging might be a problem.' ... The Pacers concluded their third road trip of three games or longer this season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved