Pacers press forward against Magic without All-Star Oladipo
The Indiana Pacers once again are playing long stretches of basketball without dynamic guard
The All-Star is nursing a sore right knee, with his return to the lineup unknown. He sat out Friday’s game against the Magic at Amway Center, marking the ninth straight game he’s missed entirely because of the injury.
Oladipo was hurt in the first quarter of the Pacers’ Nov. 17 game against the Hawks. He had been listed as day-to-day before the Pacers, who went on to win that game, eventually ruled him out indefinitely.
That’s not necessarily good news for the Pacers, who went 0-7 last season without Oladipo in the lineup. They are 5-4 without him this season, counting the win over the Hawks when he played about five minutes.
Overall the Pacers are 14-10 and are 2.5 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
Oladipo, who was drafted by the Magic as their first pick in 2013, leads the Pacers in scoring (21.4 ppg) and is shooting 44 percent from the field. He’s also second in rebounds (6.6), assists (4.7) and steals (1.6) per game.
His absence certainly changes how teams might play the Pacers. But Magic coach said it would be a mistake to dismiss the Pacers just because Oladipo is on the sideline. Indiana’s ability to play defense makes it a difficult team to beat.
“Any time you lose a primary scorer like that, it changes your team,” Clifford said. “They’re still good. They’ve done a great job without him. They’re so good defensively. They play a similar style.”
The Pacers rank first in the NBA in opponent points per game at 102.1 and are seventh in opponent fieldgoal percentage at 44.4 percent.
In addition, the Pacers have held their own offensively in Oladipo’s absence, scoring three more points a game (107.8 to 104.8).
More minutes for Isaac: Clifford continues to up the minutes for
The second-year forward missed six games earlier this season with an ankle injury and the Magic brought him along slowly when he returned. He has not yet returned to the starting lineup, but Isaac has played at 30 minutes in three of the Magic’s past five games. He’s reached double-figure scoring in four of those contests.
“He’s going to play, obviously, starter’s minutes, so I don’t think he cares. I’ve talked to him a lot about it. All he wants to do is win,” Clifford said.
Hall of Fame for Steele: Longtime Magic play-byplay announcer
who began working with the franchise in 1989, will become the eighth inductee into team’s Hall of Fame during a February ceremony.
Steele is in his 30th season of Magic basketball and 21st as the play-by-play announcer. During that time, he has called 2,296 games (regular season and playoffs) on both television and radio. The Jacksonville native took over as the Magic’s play-by-play voice in March 1998 after handling radio play-by-play duties for the team’s first nine seasons. “For 30 years,
has represented the Orlando Magic with tremendous dignity and class,” said Orlando Magic CEO said in a press release. “It is only fitting that he takes his rightful place into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.”
The induction ceremony will be Friday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in Amway Center. Steele also will be honored during the Magic’s game that night against the Chicago Bulls.
Hard to beat: Orlando has lost its past seven games and 14 of the past 15 against Indiana, and hasn’t beaten the Pacers at Amway since Feb. 9, 2014, a stretch of seven games.