The depleted Washington Wizards have struggled so much down the stretch it might not matter where they're seeded when the playoffs start this weekend.

The Wizards will try to avoid a third straight loss and slipping to eighth in the Eastern Conference when they close out the regular season Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Despite a season-high 48 points from Antawn Jamison, Washington (40-41) lost 95-89 at home to Orlando on Tuesday. It was the Wizards eighth loss in nine games and dropped them in a tie with New Jersey for the No. 6 seed in the East. The Magic are one game back in eighth.

A Washington loss, coupled with wins by New Jersey over Chicago and Orlando over Miami, would drop the Wizards to the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with Detroit. New Jersey and Orlando each hold tiebreakers over Washington, which slipped below .500 for the first time since Dec. 15 when it was 10-11.

Washington is 1-6 since All-Stars Gilbert Arenas (left knee surgery) and Caron Butler (broken right hand) went down and neither will be available for the first round of the playoffs.

"The playoffs are different," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We have veterans, and I'm sure everybody's intensity is going to go up. And we'll see if we have enough talent. Sometimes hard, guts-out work will overcome that lack of talent.''

Jamison, who averages 19.8 points, was 14-for-26 from the field Tuesday after scoring 23 points on 8-for-30 shooting in his previous three games. However, Jamison, who's averaging 23.0 points in the seven games without Arenas and Butler, went 15-for-24 from the free-throw line.

The team shot 25-for-44 from the line.

"We don't have a lot of room for error,'' Jordan said. "When we get to the line and miss that many, it is like rolling uphill or going upstream with one oar.''

Jamison is averaging 23.0 points and shooting 61.3 percent (19-for-31) in Washington's two wins against Indiana this season. He had 27 in a 112-96 victory over the Pacers on March 14.

With star Jermaine O'Neal unavailable, Indiana (35-46) lost 118-102 at Atlanta on Tuesday to drop its third straight and fourth in five contests. A 7-22 record since the All-Star break will keep the Pacers out of the playoffs for the first time since 1996-97.

O'Neal, who averages a team-leading 19.4 points and 9.6 rebounds, sat out Tuesday's game with a sore left knee and will be a game-time decision for the season finale. He scored 24 in the March loss to the Wizards in his only appearance against Washington this season.

Ike Diogu scored a season-high 20 points Tuesday to lead the Pacers.

"Our effort has been real good, even though we've had a hard time winning games," said Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, whose team allowed 41 first-quarter points Tuesday. "In the first quarter we took a step back, and we have to remedy that tomorrow.''


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