Pacers strong fourth quarter eliminates Magic in Game 5
Darren Collison scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and George Hill added 15 points for the Indiana Pacers, who trailed by two at the end of the third quarter but outscored the Orlando Magic 36-16 in the final 12 minutes, to win 105-87 and clinch their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 4-1.
Collison's complete dominance of Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson in the fourth quarter turned the game. Indiana had no answers for three quarters before Collison made all seven of his shots in the fourth quarter and had four assists. Nelson made 1-of-5 shots in the period and missed both of his 3-point tries.
"That's a testament to the type of team we have," David West said. "We're deep, man. We've got guys, that when their number's called, they're prepared. DC just had another gear that I don't think anybody else on the floor had."
In Game 4, Indiana blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter before pulling out a win in overtime. This time, the Pacers shot 75 percent in the final 12 minutes.
Nelson led Orlando with 27 points and made 5-of-8 three-pointers. Glen Davis scored 15 but made just 6-of-17 shots. The Magic, who made just 5-of-16 shots in the fourth quarter, didn't want to use Howard's absence as an excuse.
"We don't think like that," Orlando forward Ryan Anderson said. "We know we can win and play hard. We proved in Game 1 we can come out and play hard and win."
Orlando surprised Indiana in Game 1, forced overtime in Game 4 and led heading into the final quarter of their season.
"We gave a tremendous effort," Anderson said. "We really battled. We played hard. Nobody can say we didn't. It's just tough."
Collison made a layup and hit a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 78-73 lead with 9:33 to play. After Nelson drained another 3, Collison came back with a layup, then Leandro Barbosa's steal and layup pushed Indiana's lead to 87-80 with 6:49 to play and forced an Orlando timeout. A few minutes later, Paul George stole an inbounds pass and found Granger under the hoop for a layup and a 91-80 lead. The Pacers dominated from there.
Now, Indiana wants more.
"Huge step for our franchise," Frank Vogel said. "We're not happy with just getting that, though. We feel like this is just the beginning of a big run. We're excited about where we're at as a basketball team."
The Pacers will play Miami or New York in the second round. Miami leads that series 3-1, and as the final minutes ticked away, fans began chanting, "Beat the Heat."
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)