By Conrad Brunner
It required overtime, but the Magic won in Charlotte, 111-102. Coupled with the Pacers' 136-112 rout of the Washington Wizards Wednesday before 14,222 in Conseco Fieldhouse, Indiana clinched the franchise's first playoff berth since 2006 and set off a celebration in the locker room.
The likely reward for the Pacers as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference is likely a first-round pairing with the top-seeded Bulls beginning next weekend in Chicago.
Danny Granger scored 25 and Paul George a career-high 23 for the Pacers, who had seven players score in double figures including all five starters.
Jordan Crawford led the Wizards with a game-high 29.
In addition to securing the postseason berth, the victory improved the Pacers' overall record to 36-43, including 23-16 at home. They've won four of five and nine of 14 and are 19-16 under interim coach Frank Vogel. The Wizards had winning streaks of three overall and two on the road come to an end, falling to 21-56 overall and 3-36 on the road.
- "Iím just really, really happy for a lot of peopleÖthe guys in the locker room who havenít been there in a while or at all and the young guys. Iím so happy for our fans. When I came as an assistant I could see the passion in them. Itís going to be a fun ride. Iím happy for everyone. I knew there would be bumps in the road but I didnít think that would derail us from the playoffs. The future is so bright here, with salary cap room and our young guys. This is a building block toward a championship." -- Vogel
- "It feels great, but I really didnít think I would take nine years to do this. I am very happy that I am here and could do it with such a class organization. Theyíve been great to me and I hope we have given back to them." -- Mike Dunleavy
- "This is amazing for me, being my first year in the league and being around such great guys not only on the floor but in the locker room. They helped me through a lot this year. This was important to me. I knew we could do it if we stuck together." -- George
- "We must play now as if every game is our last game. We must continue to grow and work together. I know we can get the job done." -- Roy Hibbert
STAT OF THE GAME
Dunleavy ranked second on the list of NBA players with the most career games without a playoff berth (624). First was former Pacers forward Troy Murphy (651). With both players bound for their first postseason experience this year, those streaks will come to an end, leaving Chris Wilcox of Detroit (534) at the top of the list.
This one was over by the end of the first quarter. The Pacers racked their most first-quarter points (43) and most first-half points (75) of the season in building a 19-point lead at the break. It grew to 29 (93-64) in the third quarter as the Wizards never came close to producing a challenge.
BY THE NUMBERS
Granger ended a streak of five straight sub-20-point games with his 25 on 7-of-11 shooting, 3-of-5 from the arc and 8-of-9 from the line. George was aggressive throughout and wound up 9-of-15 overall, 5-of-6 from the 3-point line, adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals to his 23 points. Hibbert had 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, Darren Collison his third double-double (15 points, 11 assists), Dunleavy 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting and Josh McRoberts 10. The Pacers shot 59.5 percent from the field, had 32 assists and never trailed.
Crawford shot 9-of-23 for his 29 points. Blatche was 9-of-19, adding 10 rebounds to his 23. John Wall had 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and six turnovers, and Othyus Jeffers scored 13 off the bench. The Wizards shot 46 percent but had just 10 assists compared to 17 turnovers.
- After dropping their first game of the season to the Wizards, 12/29, the Pacers have won three straight over Washington and they have won 10 of 15.
- With tonight's loss, the Wizards' season-long three-game winning streak came to an end, as did Andray Blatche's career-best string of three straight games with 25+ points and 10+ rebounds. Blatche had 10 rebounds and 23 points tonight.
- Including a career-best five from Paul George, the Pacers connected on 13 3-pt FG, their most made from beyond the arc in the last 35 games.
- George had made just two 3-pt FG in the previous nine games combined.
- With the third of his four 3-pt FG tonight, Mike Dunleavy hit his 100th 3-pt FG of the season, second most by a Pacers' player this season.
- Including 13-24 3-pt FG, the Pacers hit 50-84 FG (.595), its best shooting from the floor since nailing 50-80 FG (.625) at New Jersey, 1/28--36 games ago.
- Including four from John Wall, the Wizards had just 10 assists tonight, tying the fewest by a Pacers' opponent this season. Washington is the third Indiana foe to have just 10 assists.
- Indiana's 32 assists are its most since having 33 vs. Toronto, 12/6, and the Pacers have had 30+ assists four times in 2010-11.
- Tonight marks just the sixth time this season (3-3) that all five Indiana starters have scored in double figures.
- The Pacers' seven blocked shots tied their most of the last 21 games--since having 10 rejections vs. Phoenix, 2/27.
- With five players out for the remainder of the season, the Wizards need bodies so they signed 6-7 forward Larry Owens from Tulsa of the D-League. They also opted to retain Othyus Jeffers, who was on his second 10-day contract. To make room for Owens, they waived Cartier Martin, who averaged 4.0 points on 52 games and shot .394 from the 3-point line.