Top-seeded Pacers close regular season in Orlando
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they will finish out the regular season Wednesday night when they visit the Amway Center to face the Orlando Magic.
"I was excited that we got it. It was something we set out for," head coach Frank Vogel said of the No. 1 seed. "It gives us the best chances going into the playoffs."
Indiana clinched the top seed and homecourt advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs when the Miami Heat lost to the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
The Pacers will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, but Indiana must finish out the regular season. Vogel will balance the playing time of his key pieces.
"We're going to rest David (West), Lance (Stephenson) and Paul George," acknowledged Vogel. "We're going to let George (Hill) and Roy (Hibbert) get some work in the game. They'll start but won't play the whole game. They've both been struggling a little bit and I think it would benefit them to play without the starters."
The Pacers have won two of three and atoned for their Friday night loss in South Beach with a 102-97 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon.
George hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over two minutes left, and Stephenson recorded his NBA-leading fifth triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. George totaled 20 points and 12 rebounds, while West scored 21 as the Pacers won for just the third time in nine games.
The Magic are headed back to the lottery and will finish with the third-worst record in the league. Utah could tie them with a win and an Orlando loss, but the Jazz swept the Magic in the regular season.
Orlando has dropped three straight, including Monday's 108-95 road loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Kyle O'Quinn totaled 20 points and seven rebounds and Andrew Nicholson scored 19 points for the Magic, who have lost six of eight. Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.
That setback gave the Magic a league-worst 4-37 mark on the road, which is also the worst in franchise history.
"With time, we'll be better (on the road)," said O'Quinn. "We made a good run at home and next year we hope that we keep the run going at home and step it up on the road."
The Pacers won two of three this season against the Magic. Their lone setback came in Orlando, where Indiana is 2-9 in its last 11 appearances.
04/16 09:56:07 ET