Locked into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, the
Orlando Magic have two games remaining to tune up for the
Based on their latest performance and recent body of work, they
probably don’t need much more time to work on things.
Coming off a win at NBA-leading Cleveland, Orlando looks for its
fifth straight victory when it plays its final road game Monday
night against the streaking Indiana Pacers.
The Magic (57-23) faced a Cavaliers team that played without
LeBron James and won 98-92 on Sunday afternoon to hand Cleveland
its sixth home loss.
Orlando has won seven of eight and is 21-5 since the All-Star
“We’re trying to win every game, because they will all mean
something in the end,” guard Vince Carter said. “I think we’re
ready to go.”
The Magic can still beat out the Los Angeles Lakers for the
second-best record, which would give them home-court advantage if
the teams meet in the NBA finals for the second straight year.
They played all of their starters at least 24 minutes Sunday,
with Dwight Howard leading the way with 22 points, 13 rebounds and
“It’s going to be hard to get back to the finals, but if you do,
you want to give yourself every advantage,” coach Stan Van Gundy
said. “History bears that out.
“You’d be doing the team and the organization a disservice to
not do everything you can to give yourself the best possible chance
Out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year, Indiana
(32-48) is playing its best basketball of the season. The Pacers
have won four straight and 10 of 12, beating New Jersey 115-102 at
home Saturday night.
They’re averaging 108.8 points over those 12 games – 119.3
during the win streak.
“It just happened a little bit too late,” said forward Danny
Granger, eighth in the NBA with 24.4 points per game. “We’ve shot
the ball better, our defense has been a little better. Our offense
has really been helping us a lot, even through the rough stretches
when our defense was kind of bad.”
Troy Murphy had 25 points and nine rebounds against the Nets,
and Granger scored 16 of his 22 in the second half.
“We are spacing the floor and hitting key shots much better
now,” Murphy said. “This wasn’t happening early in the year and
resulted in some losses for us.”
Indiana has lost two of three to Orlando, winning 97-90 in the
lone meeting at Conseco Fieldhouse on Jan. 5. The Magic have lost
six of their last eight in Indianapolis, where the Pacers have won
11 of 12.
Orlando closes the season against Philadelphia on Wednesday,
when Indiana will play its finale at Washington.