ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Yes, the Indiana Pacers are breathing sighs of relief.
But the Pacers also learned two more important things about themselves with their 101-99 Game 4 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
One, they found out forward David West is just as capable of being their go-to guy when Danny Granger can't. And though it took longer than coach Frank Vogel hoped or expected, the Pacers also finally got the boost from their reserves that they will need to not only close out this series, but to be competitive going forward.
"We ran most of our offense for the whole game, particularly in the second half, through David West," Vogel said of West's 26-point, 12-rebound night. "He's just a best in the post. He kept pounding them. He'd either score, or if they double teamed him, he'd kick it. We got some open 3s out of it. He's a quite a weapon."
Aside from his efficiency going 11 for 23 from the field and 4 for 5 from the free-throw line, West also had to captain the offense with Granger leaving the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee.
Granger returned in the fourth, but took only three shots while the Magic were erasing a 19-point deficit, and had only two more attempts in the overtime period. The Pacers also fended off the charge thanks George Hill, who had 11 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and extra frame.
Granger said in the postgame that he just "twisted" his knee, but characterized it as "nothing serious."
Both teams took off Sunday and Granger will have a full two days before Tuesday's Game 5 to rest it. He said he was more pleased with how his teammates rallied with him not being at his best down the stretch.
Hill missed his first five shots in the first three quarters, but Granger said he kept telling him to stay aggressive. Hill took the message to heart hitting 3 of his final 5 attempts the rest of the way.
"He hit some big shots," Granger said. "That defense was really good. A lot of times they took away D-West, they took away myself, too. George, he made plays. He really made plays for us at the end of the game."
Though the Pacers built and lost their huge lead in the fourth quarter, they continue to own the third period in the series, which is where West did most of his damage Saturday, scoring 12 points. They outscored the Magic 27-17 in Game 4 and now have a 108-60 edge in for the series.
It's also why Vogel wasn't too hard on his team about letting the Magic back into the game. He attributed it mostly to Orlando going with a small lineup during the spurt which they weren't too familiar with. It included small forward Hedo Turkoglu, playing the power spot.
"That was a lineup we hadn't seen a whole lot of, and it took us a while to adjust to it," Vogel said. "We tried going small at first and I think they scored about four straight layups on us. So we went back to our starting lineup, and challenged them to guard our style of play."
That also included a boost from the Pacers reserves, which outscored the Magic bench 26-16. It was Indiana's first such advantage of the series. Darren Collison led all bench scorers with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"We have a lot of confidence as a group in one another," West said. "You kind of have to pick your poison with us."
Vogel said he thought Collison "changed the game" in the first half and was huge in the second as well. He both they and his team are turning a pivotal corner because of it.
"That second unit was taking a little bit of heat for the first couple of game, not really producing and being outplayed by the Magic's bench," he said. "But (Saturday) it was the other way around."
As for the Magic, coach Stan Van Gundy said while his team is now tasked with doing what only eight other teams have accomplished in league history (coming back from a 3-1 hole), they are going to Indianapolis to win.
"Based on what they did down 19 points (Saturday), my guess is that they're not going to quit on anything," Van Gundy said. "They will come out and play Tuesday night - damn hard and very well."
Said point guard Jameer Nelson: "We have to go up to Indiana and get one. It's just one game at a time. You don't get two wins at one time. You have to win one."
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