FINAL: ORLANDO MAGIC 92, INDIANA PACERS 74


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Wednesday, April 13
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: Amway Center Center (ORLANDO, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: FS Florida



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
PACERS
Darren Collison

Mike Dunleavy

Roy Hibbert

Tyler Hansbrough

Danny Granger

Paul George

James Posey
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

Gilbert Arenas

Ryan Anderson





















GAME RECAP


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) All Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wanted was one more decent showing from his team in its regular-season finale.

Mission accomplished.

Ryan Anderson scored 14 points, and Dwight Howard had 13 points and 13 rebounds in a short night of work as the Magic cruised to a 92-74 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush both scored 16 points for Indiana.

Orlando beat the Pacers for the fifth straight time, including three victories this season. The Magic also concluded their fourth consecutive 50-win season by winning four of their final five games.

Now Van Gundy just hopes his team is ready to kick up its effort for the playoffs.

"If we play well, if we're healthy and we play at a good energy level and can play to our potential, we can beat anybody," Van Gundy said. "I think our chances are as good as anyone. But we have to play well."

The Magic host Atlanta on Saturday night in a Game 1 matchup of the fourth and fifth seeds. The Pacers open their first playoff series in five years on Saturday afternoon against top-seeded Chicago.

Orlando's playoff prep was clearly already under way Wednesday, and the Magic were able to get their starters a little rest even with some bodies missing from their ideal postseason rotation.

The game was sloppy at times, with the teams combining for 46 turnovers, including 28 by Orlando that produced 27 Indiana points. Still, the Magic led by double digits for most of the game, allowing Howard to play just 26 minutes and leave the game for the final time with 8:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. None of the other Magic starters played more than 25 minutes.

The lead was as many as 17 in the first half before the Pacers trimmed it to 33-26 in the opening minutes of the second quarter. Indiana's momentum quickly stalled, though, after big man Roy Hibbert was whistled for his fifth personal foul with 4:25 left in the half. The Magic took advantage of the open paint and closed the period with a 20-3 spurt to lead 53-29 at the break.

Indiana cut into the lead a little in the second half, but never really threatened.

Howard said despite the periods of ugliness, the team is prepared for the postseason.

"We feel good, we're ready to go," Howard said. "It's playoff time, it's the real season."

Orlando has been hobbled by a string of nagging injuries down the stretch, but it got some welcomed news early Wednesday.

Reserve guard J.J. Redick sat out his 17th straight game, but was able to do some light work during their morning shootaround. He estimated he'd be able to complete a live practice by the end of the week and expected to be available for the playoffs.

Backup point guard Gilbert Arenas got the night off to rest his sore knees and left calf muscle. He said it was just precautionary, though, and that an MRI on the tender left knee that kept him out of Monday's win over Philadelphia was negative. He also expects to be ready for the Atlanta series.

Indiana rested starting forward Danny Granger and reserve forward Jeff Foster and clearly will have to play a lot better to compete with a hot Chicago club. The Pacers shot a dismal 30 percent Wednesday and didn't get any of their starters in double figures. Hibbert picked up five fouls in just 9 minutes of the first half and didn't play in the second.

The Pacers also had 18 turnovers, which led to 16 Magic points.

"We certainly didn't want to be blown out the way we were," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We wanted to be more competitive than we were. We played to win with the guys we had on the court. We just didn't play well enough."

Hibbert said they know Wednesday's effort isn't good enough going forward.

"We are going to have to turn it up another notch," Hibbert said. "Chicago is a very good team. We are just going to go up there and play really, really hard."

Vogel also said there's no way to sugarcoat the matchup with Chicago.

"It's a tall task, but our guys are playing their best basketball of the season right now and we're excited about being in the playoffs."

NOTES: Redick said he isn't concerned about the short time he has to get his stamina back before the start of the playoffs. "It's only been a month, so it's not like it's been six months and it's not like I've been coming back from a longer injury," he said. "It might be a game, it might be three games, I don't know. But I don't think it'll take too long to get back into playing rhythm." ... Indiana rested F Danny Granger and C Jeff Foster. Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel said Granger was kept out to reduce the chances of a stress fracture in his ankle and Foster was resting a sore back. ... Indiana F Solomon Jones was whistled for a flagrant 1 foul on Jameer Nelson in the first quarter and James Posey was called for another on Earl Clark in the fourth. ... NBA referee Bob Delaney, who was officiating his final regular-season game Wednesday after a 36-year career, was honored in the pregame.





DENTON'S RECAP VS. PACERS


ORLANDO – Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard isn’t much of a football fan, but back in February he was drawn to the plight of the Green Bay Packers, a team that struggled at times during the regular season, but caught fire late and ultimately won the Super Bowl.

With Orlando winning four of its last five regular-season games heading into the playoffs, Howard hopes now that his Magic can follow the Packers’ example of a team getting hot at the right time and roll all the way to a NBA championship.

The Magic closed a sometimes rocky and bizarre regular season Wednesday night with a 92-74 defeat of Indiana and immediately cast an eye toward Saturday’s playoff opener against the rival Atlanta Hawks. Orlando is hoping that their inspired play down the stretch, combined with some reinforcements returning to health in the form of J.J. Redick and Gilbert Arenas, will mean another long playoff run this spring.

``We feel good and we’re ready to go,’’ Howard said after smashing the Pacers for 13 points and 13 rebounds in 26 ho-hum minutes of mostly garbage time. ``It’s playoff time, it’s the real season. We just want to dominate starting Saturday. It’s time for us to step up and play better basketball. Not to put any pressure on ourselves, but we just want to step up our play.’’

After back-to-back 59-win seasons, the Magic (52-30) had to battle through a season full of injuries, suspensions, illnesses and two blockbuster trades that flipped the roster upside down. But Orlando has managed to beat Milwaukee, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Indiana down the stretch while battling the East-leading Chicago Bulls down to the wire without Howard available.

The belief now, according to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, is that if the team plays well it should be good enough to dispatch the Hawks in the first round and do something special in these playoffs.

``If we play well, if we’re healthy and play at a good energy level and play to our potential, we can beat anybody,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I think our chances are as good as anyone’s. But we have to play well. We’re not going to do it turning the ball over a lot. But I like our chances because we have some different options to score. We need guys playing at a high level, that’s what it’s going to come down to. We’re anxious to get started, I know that. Our guys have been waiting for this for a while, I know that.’’

The Magic were beaten in three of the four meetings this season against the Hawks, but that record should come with an asterisk. The 91-81 loss on Dec. 20 came two days after the Magic traded for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark and before the team had practiced. And the 85-82 loss on March 30 came with the Magic having just eight healthy players.

``Defensively, the Hawks are a lot smarter than they were. They have a lot of weapons and they have a lot of guys who have gotten better,’’ Howard said of the Hawks. ``Obviously the chemistry is there because they’ve been together for a long time. It’s going to be a good series and we’re looking forward to it.’’

Ryan Anderson pumped in 14 points for the Magic, while Hedo Turkoglu added 13 points and five rebounds. Brandon Bass had 12 points and six rebounds, but he left the game late in the third period with what looked to be a mild groin injury.

Indiana forward Danny Granger, who didn’t play Wednesday because of a sore ankle, is a big believer in the Magic and Howard come playoff time.

``I think they can go pretty far,’’ Granger said of the Magic. ``Dwight Howard is such a presence inside. Honestly, I’d vote for him over Derrick Rose for MVP.

Defensively, he alters shots and he’s such a force inside. He does so much for that team and with him in the middle I think they can go back to the Finals again.’’

Here is a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from the regular-season finale:

READ THE REST OF DENTON'S ANALYSIS





MAGIC VIDEO