Indianapolis • David West is showing why he is considered such a critical part of the Indiana Pacers’ rebuilding project.
The power forward’s tough, steady play inside has Indiana on the brink of its first playoff series win since 2005. He had 12 points in the third quarter and four in overtime during Indiana’s 101-99 victory that put Indiana up 3-1 in the first-round series. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said West’s 26-point, 12-rebound effort in Game 4 is an example of why they added the veteran free agent before the season.
“He was dominant; they had no answer for him,” Vogel said. “He either scored or got doubled and found somebody for a 3-point shot. That’s the vision we have for our power post offense. He was at his best, probably, in the third quarter.”
West, a former All-Star who played eight years in New Orleans, is averaging 16.8 points and 10 rebounds in the series. The Pacers can clinch the series with Game 5 on Tuesday.
Orlando’s Ryan Anderson has struggled to guard West in the series.
“He’s a great player,” Anderson said. “He’s got a lot of length. He’s strong. He’s a great player from that position.”
As good as West was in the third quarter on Saturday, Indiana’s defense was that bad in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Indiana surrendered 28 points in the period to give Orlando a chance.
“We didn’t handle our pick-and-roll defense in Game 4 as well as we did the first three games, by a large margin, for whatever reason,” Vogel said. “If we get back to guarding the spread pick-and-roll the way we’re accustomed to, we should be alright.”
West said the Pacers aren’t worried about how their games look. He said the victory in Game 4 was much more important than the collapse.
“We’re just happy to get the win,” he said. “We know they’re a team that can make shots and go on runs. I thought we got a little lackadaisical there for a little stretch in there. They’re too good of a shooting and scoring basketball team to give them that much airspace.”
Indiana has no plans to take the Magic lightly in Game 5, especially since the Pacers lost Game 1 81-77 at home.
“The future is unforeseen,” Vogel said. “You have no idea what could happen in a game six or seven. You’ve got to approach Game 5 like a Game 7.”
Indiana forward Danny Granger, who left Saturday’s game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee before coming back in the fourth, said he’s doing fine. He was a full participant in Monday’s practice.
“I’m good,” he said. “I just twisted my knee a little bit. It was kind of a minor scare, but everything is alright.”
Orlando has chosen to focus on the comeback and what they learned from Saturday’s loss. The Magic also overcame a late deficit to win Game 1.
“I think the energy level we showed that second half has kind of stuck to us,” Orlando center Glen Davis said. “We have to make sure that we sustain that energy as much as possible through the whole game. We’re concentrating on Game 5. That’s all we can do. Can’t do anything except concentrate on that one game.”
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy believes the Pacers are too talented a team to keep testing.
“For us now the real challenge is to try and get a game where we’re not playing out of a hole,” he said. “We had to come back from behind in Game 1 to win it, and then the 3rd quarter holes in Games 2 and 3 — you’re only going to be able to do that so many times. We need to play a more even game and not have to be digging ourselves out of a hole all the time.”
Davis, who has replaced the injured Dwight Howard in the series, has averaged 20 points and 9.5 rebounds in the series on 45 percent shooting. The Pacers don’t feel they need to change anything against him.
“There’s kind of been this this idea that if he’s shooting the ball and doing what he’s doing, they’re not launching threes and (Hedo) Turkoglu’s not getting the ball and (Jameer) Nelson’s not getting his looks,” West said. “At this time of year, you know you’ve got to give up something. He’s been making some tough baskets. Everything he’s doing is contested. He hasn’t been getting anything easy, so we’ll live with that.”
Most of Orlando’s shots have been contested. The Magic are shooting just 39 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range in the series. Even with those dreadful statistics and two straight losses at home, Van Gundy said his team hasn’t given up.
“I honestly believe that our guys believe they can win,” he said. “I go by what I see — guys practiced very hard today. Guys were very focused today on some of the adjustments we wanted to make. We’ve practiced very much like we’re still in a series. That’s all I can go on. I think our guys will be ready to go.”
Game 1 • Orlando 81, Indiana 77
Game 2 • Indiana 93, Orlando 78
Game 3 • Indiana 97, Orlando 74
Game 4 • Indiana 101, Orlando 99, OT
Indiana leads series 3-1
Tuesday • Orlando at Indiana, 5 p.m., NBA TV
x-Friday • Indiana at Orlando, TBD
x-Sunday • Orlando at Indiana, TBD
P • Orlando at Indiana, Tuesday5 p.m., NBA TV
Indiana leads series 3-1