INDIANAPOLIS, April 19 (Ticker) -- Jermaine O'Neal
and the Indiana Pacers
will head to the postseason with some momentum.
O'Neal had 24 points and 13 rebounds as the Pacers clinched the
sixth seed in the Eastern Conference with an 89-83 victory over
the Orlando Magic.
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added 22 points and Peja Stojakovic
Indiana (41-41), which won five of its final six games and will
face New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers
won two of three games from the Nets this season.
"Those games were a long time ago," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
said of the games against the Nets during the regular season. "I
don't think there's anything we can hang our hat on. They're
going to come at us with great intensity. We'll have to play
with force at both ends."
"We all know that (Jason) Kidd
pushes the ball up very quickly
and we best be ready," Stojakovic said. "I think if we can stop
their transition game and get the ball to our big guys in the
half court, we can hurt them."
Needing a win to finish no lower than sixth, the Pacers trailed
for only 33 seconds. They held a 41-37 lead at the half, then
extended the advantage to double digits entering the final
"I'm proud of the way the team finished the year," O'Neal said.
"But now the real season starts. We played 82 practice games to
get to this point."
scored 17 points and Keyon Dooling
15 for the
Magic (36-46), who used a late 11-3 run to pull within 87-83
with under two minutes remaining. But Orlando was unable to
get any closer.
"That second unit came in and gave us some life and gave us an
opportunity at the end," Magic coach Brian Hill
(Indiana) didn't want to finish in the eighth spot. We knew
that they had something to play for and it wasn't going to be
easy. I just wish that we could have played better."