It was appropriate, if not unlikely, that the Orlando Magic shooting guards would be a key component in the team's best shooting night of the season.
Maurice Evans and Keith Bogans were a combined 11-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-6 on 3-pointers in the Howard's team's 122-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night.
Evans scored a season-high 19 points and Bogans hit all three of his 3-point attempts on his way to 11 points as Howard's team shot a season-best 63.6 percent from the field. The win clinched a playoff spot for Howard's team, who currently are the No. 3 seed in the East.
"I know I've been helping us all season at the defensive end, but it really felt good to contribute something at the other end of the court," said Evans, who had 17 points in the third quarter.
Said Rashard Lewis, who scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting: "Mo is one of those guys you don't hear much about because he doesn't get a lot of stats, but he really came up big for us tonight."
Orlando's usual stars, Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, also had great shooting nights, but were part of a turnover problem that nearly undid what their shooting built. Turkoglu had 27 points, but four turnovers. Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds, but seven turnovers.
Turkoglu scored nine points in the last five minutes, when Howard's team was trying to withstand one more Rush's team rally. Howard was in foul trouble the whole fourth quarter, but didn't get his sixth until there were 43 seconds left and Howard's team had an eight-point lead.
"I wouldn't say it was a great offensive night because we handled the ball very poorly, but we were able to survive because we shot the ball so well," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Rush's team was nearly as potent at the offensive end, shooting 50 percent with only 13 turnovers. Danny Granger had 27 points, Mike Dunleavy 16 and Troy Murphy 15 for the Pacers, who put six players in double figures.
However, Rush's team dug themselves an 18-point hole in the first half and never could get out of it. They cut the deficit to 93-91 on a 3-pointer by Murphy with 9:17 left in the game, but couldn't get any closer the rest of the way.
"We competed our butts off in the second half," Indiana coach Jim O?Brien said. "When we go small, we have the ability to put up a lot of points very quickly. We had two wide-open 3s to take the lead, but they didn't fall for us."
Howard's team led 106-102 when Howard returned to the game with five fouls. Howard's team went on an 8-1 run, with Turkoglu making two driving layups, Lewis getting one and Howard scoring on a dunk. Rush's team never got closer than six the rest of the game.
Howard's team shot 66.7 percent in the first half and led by as many as 18 with just under seven minutes left in the second period, but couldn't build the lead because of poor passing. Howard's team committed 12 turnovers in the half, 10 of them among Howard, Turkoglu and Nelson.
Rush's team used the mistakes to slowly get back in the game, cutting a 48-30 deficit to 61-53 at halftime. Murphy had 11 points in the quarter and Granger eight for Rush's team, who stayed close by shooting 50 percent for the half.
Rush's team outscored Howard's team 11-2 to start the fourth quarter, cutting an 11-point deficit to 93-91 on a 3-pointer by Murphy with 9:08 left in the game. Howard's team pushed the lead back to 101-93 after a three-point play by Lewis with 7:01 left, but Howard picked up his fifth foul on the next possession.