Hawks-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 05, 2013
The Indiana Pacers failed in two chances this season to end a lengthy losing streak in Atlanta. Hosting the Hawks could produce a different result. The Pacers will go for their first 15-game home winning streak in 13 seasons and sole possession of the Central Division lead on Tuesday night when they continue the league's only back-to-back-to-back set this season. With losses to Atlanta on Nov. 7 (89-86) and Dec. 29 (109-100), Indiana (29-19) has dropped 11 straight as the road team in this series and four in a row overall. The Hawks (26-20), though, are definitely not an overconfident group as they make their first of two visits to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. "We've played some good games against them, and we've had some success, but we know that at home they're a totally different team," said center Al Horford, who is averaging a team-best 18.0 points with 7.5 rebounds against Indiana this season. The Pacers have matched their longest home winning streak in 10 seasons after a 111-101 victory over Chicago on Monday helped them earn a share of the division lead with the Bulls. It was a make-up game from a Dec. 26 blizzard that hit Indianapolis, and it set up the first of three straight games for Indiana, which plays at Philadelphia on Wednesday. "We're just playing together, every game I feel like we're playing sharper,'' said David West, who has totaled 59 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in back-to-back wins over Eastern Conference-leading Miami and the Bulls. The Pacers' last 15-game home winning streak was a 25-game run from Nov. 29-1999-March 9, 2000. Indiana could move closer to that mark if it continues to clamp down on defense. The team is giving up 85.0 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting during its home winning streak. That doesn't bode well for a Hawks team that's dropped seven of eight on the road and is coming off a 93-76 home loss to the Bulls on Saturday when it shot 39.2 percent. "(The Pacers are) a really good defensive team, so it's going to be a grind-in-out game," point guard Jeff Teague said. Indiana, though, has shown lately that it can pick up the pace. Among the league's lowest scoring teams with 92.4 points per game, the Pacers are averaging 104.4 over their last five. And this is without Danny Granger, who could return before the All-Star break after being out all season with patellar tendinosis in his left knee. "I'm proud of the way we're growing on the offensive end,'' coach Frank Vogel said. "Still a few too many turnovers (50 during their three-game winning streak), but we've made a commitment to the extra pass. When the ball is moving, we're too many weapons to be as poorly efficient as we have been.'' The Pacers, though, continue to dominate the glass, outrebounding their opponents by 9.6 over the last five games. "It's a challenge to come out and play against teams that are really good rebounding teams," said Hawks coach Larry Drew, whose team has outrebounded Indiana by 10 this season. "... We're going to have to be good tomorrow night." The Hawks won 101-96 on March 6 to avoid a third consecutive loss at Indiana. The Pacers, 19-3 at home, haven't lost to a visiting team since Dec. 7 against Denver.
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