ORLANDO, Fla. — It wasn’t Indiana’s best shooting night, not by a long shot.
But the Pacers made enough shots and played enough defence to beat the Orlando Magic 95-86 on Wednesday.
"They had a lot of open misses and so did we," Pacers guard George Hill. "But you’ve got to do something to stop the bleeding in order to survive in this league and we were the ones who hit the shots down the stretch."
Paul George had 20 points and Monta Ellis scored nine of his 19 in the fourth quarter, helping the Pacers beat the Magic for the sixth straight time.
George, who scored at least 31 points in his previous three games, shot 5 of 13 but led a second-quarter rally that put Indiana ahead for good.
"This was a defensive battle. Both teams couldn’t make shots," George said. "It came down to that last separation and we did a good job of doing so."
After the teams combined to shoot 5 for 39 from 3-point range in the first three quarters, Hill and the Magic’s Victor Oladipo picked up the scoring pace in the fourth with two long-range jumpers apiece.
Oladipo led the Magic with 20 points, 11 in the fourth period. Nik Vucevic added 17 points and four rebounds.
Orlando missed nine of its first 10 shots and fell behind by nine points early. But Jason Smith made three shots and left the game with an ankle injury during a 15-6 spurt that left the Magic with a six-point lead, its largest of the game, late in the second quarter.
George scored the final five points of an 8-0 Indiana run early in the second half, and the Pacers held the lead for the rest of the game.
The Magic were down 71-69 when Oladipo hit a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, but Hill answered with consecutive 3s for Indiana. Hill scored nine of his 16 points in the final period and made all three of his 3-point shots for a team that was 6 for 22 overall.
But the Magic, who have lost four straight for the first time this season, shot even worse from behind the arc.
"Early on we were just wide open and couldn’t make them. That happens," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "But 6 for 31 is hard to overcome. You have to make 3s in this league to win a game."
Two free throws by George gave the Pacers their first 10-point lead with 3:02 remaining. Evan Fournier and Oladipo hit 3-pointers in Orlando’s final run, but Ellis clinched it for the Pacers with four straight free throws in the final minute.
"I didn’t feel Indiana played that well and they were still able to beat us," Skiles said.
George might be a better shooter since missing nearly an entire season while recovering from a knee injury, according to Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "In the year that he was out, there was a stretch when all he could so was a stand-still jump shot, and I do think his perimeter shooting is stronger than it’s ever been, so maybe there is something to that," Vogel said.
Pacers: George’s 3-pointer late in the first quarter was the 600th of his career and the only one by either team in the first 17 minutes. … The Pacers have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Magic.
Magic: Elfrid Payton missed his second straight game (and the second of his career) with a bruised left ankle. … Averaging a league-low 18.3 free throws per game, the Magic made 16 of 17.
Indiana plays at New Orleans on Friday night.
Orlando plays at Brooklyn on Friday night.