ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers are losing the tag as a
team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Indiana lost its third straight game, a 92-88 loss to Orlando on
Monday night that ended the Magic's seven-game losing streak and
put the Pacers in danger of falling to seventh place in the Eastern
If Indiana loses its final game of the season at home against
Chicago and Philadelphia beats Atlanta, the 76ers would move ahead
of the Pacers and claim the No. 6 seed.
"We've got to stop the bleeding," said Pacers guard Reggie
Miller, who scored 13 points but was only 1-for-6 on 3-pointers.
"We've got a lot to play for. This should have been a playoff-type
atmosphere for us, but they had the energy and we didn't match
Jermaine O'Neal had 16 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes
for the Pacers but was dissatisfied with his performance. O'Neal is
still favoring the injured shoulder that caused him to miss 22
"If I'm going to be out there, I have to concentrate on the
task at hand and not worry about the shoulder," O'Neal said.
"It's not like it's going to get better during the playoffs. I've
just got to concentrate on doing a better job."
The Magic, who had hopes of being in the playoff mix before the
seven-game losing streak, were thankful for some positive news at
the end of a frustrating season.
"We felt we were a better team than our record and it really
shows the spirit and camaraderie that these guys have to step up
and play that hard in a game like this," Magic coach Chris Jent
"We don't want to leave on a bad note," said guard Steve
Francis, who scored 24 points, including a big jumper with 10
seconds to play. "Despite not making the playoffs, I think the
players and organization wanted to go out with a victory."
Indiana got 19 points from reserve point guard Fred Jones.
Orlando led most of the game thanks to 48 percent shooting, but
needed Francis' 20-footer from the top of the key and Tony Battie's
two free throws with 8 seconds left to hold off Indiana.
The Pacers trailed by 11 points midway through the third quarter
when they went outside to get back in the game, hitting five
3-pointers at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.
James Jones had three, including the one that drew the Pacers
within 83-81 with 7:53 left in the game.
Fred Jones' jumper from just inside the arc gave Indiana an
84-83 lead with 3:55 to play. That was the Pacers' first and only
lead since early in the game.
Battie and Jameer Nelson hit consecutive jumpers to give Orlando
an 87-84 lead.
The Magic shot 56 percent from the field in taking a 51-44
halftime lead behind 16 points from Francis and 11 from Howard.
Pacers PG Anthony Johnson was suspended for one game by the
NBA on Monday for throwing a punch at Miami's Alonzo Mourning on
Sunday. ... The Magic went 3-1 against Indiana this season. ...
Francis was back in the lineup after missing one game with a bad
back. ... Indiana is 12-6 this season against teams in the
Southeast Division, losing its last three against Washington, Miami
and Orlando. ... The last five Magic opponents have shot 50.5
percent (212-of-419) from the field. ... Battie nearly had his
first double-double of the season with 12 points and nine rebounds.