Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Magic Game Goes `Poof'; Pacers' Hopes Materialize

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Magic Game Goes `Poof'; Pacers' Hopes Materialize

Article excerpt

Everything that made Orlando seem so magical at home was nowhere to be found Saturday, once Shaquille O'Neal and his buddies stepped into noisy Market Square Arena.

O'Neal got in foul trouble and scored just 18 points, and the perimeter shooting of Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson failed them.

Even the composure that helped the Magic win the first two close games of the Eastern Conference finals deserted them in a 105-100 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers' relentless defense shut down the Magic in the fourth quarter. Indiana can tie the best-of-seven series with another win Monday at Market Square Arena, where the Magic have lost seven in a row.

"Any time Shaquille is on the floor for 30 minutes, we're in trouble," Magic coach Brian Hill said.

After dominating the Pacers in the first two games with great shooting and strong performances from O'Neal, the Magic could rely on neither aspect of their game. Indiana defended the post and the perimeter better, as well as controlling the boards 38-26.

"We were playing their style in Game 1 and Game 2," said Reggie Miller, who led the Pacers with 26 points. "We did a good job in the second half of getting to their shooters and keeping Shaq from getting down low."

After scoring 71 points on 70 percent shooting in the first two games, O'Neal was eight of 15 from the field. More important, he picked up his fourth foul early in the third and spent a lot more time on the bench than he's used to.

"I didn't even break a sweat," he said.

"We bothered him a little more," said forward Dale Davis, who along with Antonio Davis assumed the bulk of defensive duty when Rik Smits got into foul trouble. "We got him off the block some. That made it a little tougher on him, and we tried to double on him more."

The Magic still hit 13 3-pointers, giving them 36 for the series, but their shooters sputtered in the fourth when Orlando missed 15 of 22 field goal attempts. …

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