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Turkoglu helps Magic clinch playoff berth

Mar 16, 2008 - 4:19 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Hedo Turkoglu and the Orlando Magic joined the postseason party.

Turkoglu had 27 points and six assists as the Magic held off the pesky Indiana Pacers, 122-111, to secure their second straight playoff berth on Saturday.

All-Star Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Maurice Evans scored 17 of his season-high 19 in the third for Orlando, which clinched a postseason berth on April 15 last season.

Rashard Lewis scored 22 points and Keith Bogans added 11 off the bench for the Magic, who shot a a season-high 64 percent (49-of-77) en route to their eighth win in their last nine here.

The Magic's field-goal percentage marked the highest the Pacers have surrendered to any team in their 41-year history.

It came on a night when Orlando became the third team - joining Boston and Detroit - to clinch a spot in the postseason in the weak Eastern Conference.

"It's a big accomplishment for us to do it so early in the season," Howard said. "But I think the important thing is trying to get at least 50 wins and try and go ahead and catch Detroit (for the Eastern Conference's second spot). We know how to play basketball and, one day, we're going to get the respect we deserve from everybody."

Turkoglu connected on 13-of-23 shots from the floor to help keep Orlando in the lead throughout.

It was Turkoglu and reserve Brian Cook who shot the Magic to a 48-30 lead midway through the second quarter before Indiana's hot shooting sliced the deficit to 61-53 at the half.

"We're a good team. We shouldn't be surprised (at winning)," Turkoglu said. "(We will) act like it's normal."

Although the home team led by 10 after the first quarter and 11 through three periods, the Pacers nearly repeated their December comeback in which they erased a double-digit lead in the second half in Orlando.

Had it not been for Evans the Magic would have been in trouble in the third, being that Howard was saddled with foul problems.

"(Evans) kept that lead for us in the third quarter and played big for us tonight," Lewis said. "He's the guy that nobody really knows about, but Maurice does great things for us on the defensive end as well as getting open shots."

After a slam dunk by Turkoglu gave Orlando a 93-85 advantage 1:52 into the quarter, Danny Granger made two consecutive shots from the arc within the next 58 seconds to cut the Pacers' deficit to two.

The Magic went on an 8-2 mini-spurt to up their advantage to 101-93 with seven minutes left before a jumper by Granger cut the deficit to 106-102 with 4:35 remaining.

"Indiana's a very difficult team to play against," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "They get you spread out and have a high energy level. But I thought our guys responded well after the start of the fourth period when they cut it to two. We survived only because we shot the ball well."

However, the Magic broke away for good, outscoring the Pacers, 12-6, over the next 3:20 to take a 117-107 lead with 75 ticks on the clock. Lewis finished the burst with his third 3-pointer of the game.

Granger had 27 points and six rebounds and Mike Dunleavy scored 16 for Indiana, which shot 50 percent (41-of-82) but has lost five straight and 18 of 22 away from home.

"They made about everything they put up tonight," Granger said. "We still made a run at them. They're a good team and that's why they are a top team in the East."

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