NBA: Pacers pull away from Magic, 97-87 - The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VT
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home : sports : regional November 25, 2015

NBA: Pacers pull away from Magic, 97-87

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored 24 points, and Roy Hibbert added 16 rebounds and seven blocks, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 97-87 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

The two-man tandem looked every bit as dominant in the season opener as they did leading the Pacers (1-0) to the Eastern Conference finals last season.

George's buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave Indiana a 69-64 lead and sparked the decisive 17-4 run to open the fourth.

Hibbert nearly matched his career-high for rebounds (17) in the first half. He had eight points but left the game midway through the fourth quarter after injuring his knee in a spill underneath his own basket. Team officials said it was not serious and he could have returned.


The NBA begins another season with three matchups on opening night. Some highlights from around the courts:

GETTING IT GOING: Miami got rolling in the second quarter using a 17-0 run to open up a 21-point lead. Chicago struggled from the field with Derek Rose, who was playing his first real game -- not counting preseason exhibitions -- since a knee injury derailed him in April 2012, looking rusty. He missed six of his first eight shots.

ROUGH START: Maybe they were blinded by the rings which weighed nearly 5 ounces each and included 242 round-cut diamonds, 1½ carats of custom baguette-cut diamonds, and three black onyx stones totaling 10.3 carats, but Miami and Chicago got off to a slow start. The Heat lead 17-15 after one quarter as neither team could find much rhythm on offense.

PRESIDENTIAL TWEET: Pat Riley, the President of the Miami Heat, received his ninth NBA championship ring on Tuesday night.

Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was rooting for the other guys.

At 7:07 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, about an hour before tipoff, the following message -- "Welcome back, @drose. (hashtag)BullsNation" -- was posted to Obama's Twitter account.

Probably a good chance it'll get brought up when the Heat visit the White House sometime later this season in recognition of their 2013 NBA title. Obama makes no secret of the fact that he's a Bulls fan.

CELEBRATION: Tuesday was a day for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade to celebrate. There was a new banner for his team to raise, a third NBA championship team for his finger, and an 11th pro season for him to begin.

Oh, and there was birthday cake as well.

Wade's longtime girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union, turned 41 on Tuesday night. And a few months ago, when Wade saw the schedule for the first time, his first thought was that "we can't lose on my lady's birthday."

How did he do on the birthday-present shopping front?

"Solid," Wade said. "What can you do? There really isn't much you can do. A couple nice gifts."

For the record, Wade will be working on his birthday this year as well. He turns 32 on Jan. 17, a night the Heat play in Philadelphia.

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR: Everybody got a ring in Miami on Tuesday night. Well, just about everybody.

While the Heat staff, coaches and players were getting their baubles to commemorate last season's NBA championship, even fans got a ring of sorts to go home with. One of the giveaway items for fans in Miami was a T-shirt with a ring emblazoned on the front, accompanied by the words "Strive for Greatness."

The shirts were presented by Nike, and the "Strive for Greatness" theme is one that LeBron James is using to coincide with his latest ad campaign for the shoe company.

BIG BIRD: Larry Bird has been a larger-than-life personality in his home state.

On Tuesday night, fans got to see just how big. A statue of Bird, which will be dedicated at his alma mater, Indiana State, next weekend was on display inside the Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the Pacers' season opener.

The statue, which shows Bird in a shooting motion and an Indiana State uniform, stands 15-feet tall, and though Bird said he was "sort of embarrassed" by it, he was happy that it the statue is taller than Magic Johnson's on the Michigan State campus.

"It should be, c'mon," Bird said with a chuckle.

Pacers fans won't get to see it for long. The dedication of the statue is scheduled for Nov. 9, before the Sycamores face Ball State at Terre Haute, Ind.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse is one of the few newer NBA arenas that does not have any permanent statues, so when Bird, a former Pacers coach and the current president of basketball operations, was asked whether he would support putting one in for Reggie Miller, Bird was in favor.

"My feeling was always more along the lines of get your number retired and those sorts of things," Bird said. "But if they put one in, I would be the first one to see it."

WELCOME BACK: Victor Oladipo felt like he was playing at home in his NBA debut.

His parents traveled to Indianapolis. Tom Crean made the one-hour drive from Bloomington to watch one of his star pupils. And those who watched Oladipo go from overlooked recruit to the No. 2 pick in June's draft showed up, too. Oladipo may have handed out just 18 to 20 tickets to family and friends but hundreds more showed up more 90 minutes before tip-off to catch a glimpse of the former Hoosiers star before Tuesday night's season opener against the Pacers.

"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart," Oladipo said. "Without (the Hoosiers fans), I wouldn't be here. I like this, being back in Indiana, and I'm going to have a lot of people here."

He did, though some were certainly surprised that Oladipo was not in Orlando's starting lineup -- ending speculation about how rousing the ovation would be when his name was announced.

As his Orlando teammates went through their pregame shootaround, Oladipo spoke to dozens of reporters at courtside, staring straight into a section full of crimson-and-cream Indiana jerseys and new Orlando Magic jerseys. When he finished, Oladipo sprinted halfway up the section to have a picture taken with a couple of children before getting back to the business of basketball.

"I think this is going to be a great challenge for him," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "It's what this league is all about, playing two games in three days or three days in four days, his family's here, his coaches are here, his friends are here.

"It's a great challenge."

When Oladipo entered the game midway through the first quarter, fans gave him a standing ovation. Eight seconds later, he picked up his first foul. And when Oladipo made his first basket, a 3-pointer with 2:56 to go in the first quarter, about half the crowd cheered. The welcome wasn't so warm for former Purdue star E'Twaun Moore, who drew mostly boos when he entered the game the first time.

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