With home court wrapped up and the playoffs scheduled to begin on Saturday (time yet to be determined), the Indiana Pacers opted to rest a handful of players in their regular season finale against the Orlando Magic. Roy Hibbert and George Hill were the only two starters to receive game action tonight, with the two playing through the first half. Neither really made much of an impact on their half of action.
George Hill was 2-5 from the floor, came up with a pair of offensive rebounds, scoring five points. Roy Hibbert continued his woeful shooting, going 1-7 from the field, scoring four points. He did rebound well, coming up with seven boards in his 17 minutes of action. Beyond that, it was much like last Wednesday's game in Milwaukee; a night carried by the second and third units of the Pacers.
The Pacers and Magic swapped leads throughout the first half, the Pacers proving turnover prone with eight first half turnovers that Orlando capitalized on to keep them well within the game despite a healthy rebounding and three point edge from the Pacers. Indiana outscored the Magic by eight in the final five minutes of the half to go up 46-40 at the break.
In the third quarter, the Pacers poured it on with 20 points in the first half of the quarter to jump ahead 66-48. Orlando would make a few pushes, but couldn't break the game into single figures, as the Pacers wrapped up a 101-86 victory to finish the regular season 56-26, tying them for their third best record in NBA franchise history, tying them with the 1999-00 Eastern Conference Champion squad.
The biggest swing for the scoreboard in the second half came with the turnovers. After eight in the first half, the Pacers had just four in the second half. They continued to shoot and rebound well, finishing up 46.6% on nine extra field goal attempts. The Pacers outrebounded Orlando 52-40, including 15 offensive rebounds, holding Orlando to 40.5%, which was pretty impressive given a less than stellar defensive performance at stretches of the game.
Indiana was led by Rasual Butler, who finished up with 19 points on 8-13 shooting, including a pair of impressive dunks. Butler got plenty of help on a night where the Pacers' ball movement was all over the place. Indiana had 26 assists on 41 made buckets, with Evan Turner leading the assist game with six.
Turner had a spot on shooting night, scoring 14 points on 5-6 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists. As one of the few players who saw run tonight that's expected to see the floor against Atlanta, it was nice to see Turner play very well in a winning effort. It'll be a little different facing playoff competition (despite Atlanta's W-L record), but it was the best positive as far as individual performance went in tonight's game.
As Turner flirted with a double double, so did Luis Scola, who had 10 points and eight rebounds (with four assists of his own). Scola wasn't spot on with 4-10 shooting, but led the starters with four offensive rebounds. Lavoy Allen off the bench did get a triple double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, five offensive, and he was a handful for the Magic defenders all night.
Chris Copeland and Donald Sloan joined the double figure club, Copeland scoring 19 on 7-13 shooting, letting 11 three pointers fly, hitting five. Sloan had some early turnover struggles, but came together for a solid all around effort, scoring 13 points on 6-13 shooting. Solomon Hill had time as well, hitting a buzzer beating three at the end of the first quarter as part of his five points.
Local products for the Orlando Magic had varying nights, with E'Twaun Moore scoring 13 points with six rebounds to lead the Orlando bench. Victor Oladipo struggled mightily with just four points on 2-8 shooting, playing just 17 minutes as the Magic wrap up their season 23-59.
While the overall outcome of tonight's game mattered little, the excitement from the bench, the quality play of Turner, and the general preseason vibe of tonight's contest was fun to take in as the team will look forward to the 2014 NBA Playoffs. It'll be the fourth straight year the Pacers will make the playoffs, squaring off against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday (time to be determined).
While Indiana knew who their opponent was, the 3-7 spots in the East were up for grabs. The Chicago Bulls succumbed in overtime to the Charlotte Bobcats, locking them in at the 48-34 and the fourth seed, putting them on Indiana's side of the bracket. The Brooklyn Nets made no secret as to which side of the bracket they wanted to be in, resting their starters, and bombing out big time against Cleveland on the road.
The Washington Wizards pulled away from the Boston Celtics late in the second half, which coupled with Brooklyn's loss, moves them up to the fifth seed to face the Bulls. Brooklyn will slide to the sixth seed to face the third seed Toronto Raptors in hopes of meeting up with the Miami Heat in the second round, who will take on the Bobcats, completing the Eastern Conference Playoff picture.