for this game

Hill helps Magic defeat slumping Pacers

Mar 31, 2007 - 6:46 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Grant Hill and the Orlando Magic came away smiling. But the same cannot be said for the Indiana Pacers.

Hill scored 22 points and Trevor Ariza added 17 off the bench as the Magic continue to move toward the postseason with a 95-87 triumph over the reeling Pacers.

With the win, Orlando (34-39) moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one-half game ahead of New Jersey (33-39).

"That's a good win for us, obviously, with the situation in the standings," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "It gives us a two-game lead in the loss column right now, which is a tiny bit of breathing room away."

However, the Pacers (31-41) remained on their downward spiral, falling two games behind New Jersey for the eighth and final spot. Indiana has only won twice in its last 19 games.

"We are not giving in to anything," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We are going to keep fighting this thing and we just have to keep getting ready for the next one."

Pacers' All-Star Jermaine O'Neal struggled, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting with eight turnovers.

"I would have thought a long time ago we would have had this thing turned around," O'Neal said. "We lost seven games in a row and I thought we would have had the incentive to go out and try and be a better team and get into the postseason."

"Dwight (Howard) did an excellent job on O'Neal from the beginning of the game until O'Neal sat down," Orlando guard Jameer Nelson said.

In the third quarter, Mike Dunleavy's 3-pointer brought the Pacers within 59-56 at the 3:56 mark, but they did not get any closer.

Hill and Ariza combined for an 8-0 run to close the third quarter, extending the Magic's advantage to 67-56.

"I think I played all right. We won, that's the big thing," Ariza said. "I got a lot of easy buckets, made a couple free throws and just played good defense."

Orlando's second unit was impressive, holding a 37-22 advantage.

"Those guys came in and their defense and their athleticism gives us a bid lift," Brian Hill said.

Jamaal Tinsley had 27 points and 10 rebounds and Danny Granger scored 13 for Indiana, which shot 42 percent (32-of-76) from the field and committed 22 turnovers.

Indiana fell to 11-22 since sending away forwards Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson as part of an eight-player trade with the Golden State Warriors.

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