Pacers can now turn attention to Miami Heat

They could have easily looked past a game in front of the sparse crowd at the Amway Center on Friday night. Their sights could have been three hours down the turnpike, thinking about what awaits them Sunday night in Miami.

Indiana Pacers' Paul George (24) takes a free throw shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Friday, March 8, 2013, in Orlando, Fla. Indiana won the game 115-86.

The Indiana Pacers didn’t think that way.

They weren’t going to let the struggling Orlando Magic stop them from getting back on track after they gave away a game at home against Boston two nights earlier.

The Pacers were never threatened by the Magic in a 115-86 victory Friday night.

“It’s always good to bounce back,” Pacers point guard George Hill said. “We know Sunday’s game doesn’t mean anything if we would have laid an egg. The first two times we came here, (the Magic) handed us a good butt whooping. We knew that in the back of our heads.”.

The Pacers play the Heat, who are on a 17-game winning streak, on Sunday. They’re 2-0 against the Eastern Conference’s best team this season. Miami hasn’t lost since the Pacers beat them Feb. 1 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

But before they could worry about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Pacers had to make sure they took care of the Magic.

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The players didn’t talk about Miami on the plane ride to Florida on Thursday, at shootaround or inside the locker room before Friday’s game.

It was all about Orlando. Nothing else.

“We were tied with the Knicks for the No. 2 seed, so this game was going to sway it one way or another,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We just talked about how important of a game this is. We didn’t talk about Sunday’s game. Just trying to take back the two seed.”.

The Pacers, who have a half-game lead on New York, simply had to look back at their first two games — one preseason and one regular season — against the Magic in Orlando.

The rebuilding Magic beat the Pacers by 16 points in the preseason and by nine in January.

“We knew Orlando was a dangerous team,” Pacers power forward David West said. “We didn’t play well in either game against them. We were locked in defensively and we shared the ball on offense.”.

The Pacers fell behind by four points less than 2 minutes into the game, took an 8-6 lead on a basket from Roy Hibbert and never looked back.

They led by as many as 29 points, allowing Vogel to empty his bench in the fourth quarter.

That’s when the focus shifted to Miami.

Chants of “Beat the Heat” started from the Pacers fans sitting behind the bench as the seconds ticked off the clock in the fourth quarter.

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An Amway Center security guard told me to tell the Pacers to “kick Miami’s (butt),” as I made my way to the locker room after the game.

The Miami-Philadelphia game was showing in the Pacers’ locker room on the giant high-definition flat screen mounted on the wall.

Eyes stayed glued to the TV. Associate head coach Brian Shaw watched as he leaned against the wall eating his postgame meal. West took his time making his way to the shower.

“We are excited for this matchup,” Pacers swingman Paul George said. “We know it is going to be a tough game. We are the last team to have beaten them. Everybody is going to be up for the game. We know they are going to be ready.”.

Next stop Miami, where LeBron and his boys will be waiting for the Pacers.

Mike Wells writes for the Indianapolis Star.

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