Jazz-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 19, 2012
After taking steps toward ending their road struggles, the Utah Jazz would like to do the same in the second game of back-to-back situations. That could prove difficult against the Indiana Pacers, who have been resilient when facing that challenge. The Jazz will try to snap a three-game losing streak in the second game of back-to-backs on Wednesday night when they visit the Pacers, who are 5-2 in those situations. Even though they've won eight of 11 overall against the Pacers, the Jazz have never won at Indiana in the second game of a back-to-back (0-6). Utah is just 2-4 in those games this season. The Jazz (14-12) look to put an end to those streaks after they came from 13 down at halftime to win 92-90 at Brooklyn on Tuesday night. Despite turning it over twice in the final 31 seconds, Utah survived a pair of misses on the Nets' final possession to win for the second time in three road games after a 3-9 start. "The game, we still pulled it out, that's all that matters," said center Al Jefferson, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds. While he finished with his third straight double-double on the road, Jefferson is averaging 15.1 points on 45.7 percent shooting away from home compared to 20.7 while shooting 52.5 in Salt Lake City. Jefferson, however, has averaged 23.0 points in his last three games at Indiana. Teammate Paul Millsap has averaged 19.0 and 12.0 rebounds in his last three games in the series. Utah has put up just 90.3 points over its last four contests since scoring 131 in a win over Toronto on Dec. 7 and 117 in a victory at the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 9. It doesn't figure to get any easier against the Pacers, who lead the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage (41.0) and rank third in scoring defense (90.7). Indiana (13-12) hopes to get back on track at home following a 98-93 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday that ended the team's three-game winning streak. The Pacers shot 40.0 percent and committed 20 turnovers. "We competed our tails off,'' coach Frank Vogel said. "We had a tough night shooting the basketball. We turned the ball over too much." Though the Pacers have five wins in back-to-back situations, their competition wasn't stiff. Two of the victories came against the league-worst Wizards, while the others were against Sacramento, Portland and Detroit. Paul George helped Indiana win seven of 10 coming into Tuesday, but has totaled 31 points on 12 of 31 (38.7 percent) shooting in his last two games after averaging 22.6 points in his previous eight. Roy Hibbert played Tuesday despite suffering a deep thigh bruise in Saturday's win at Detroit, though he had just eight points and 10 rebounds as he continues to struggle to regain his All-Star form of a year ago. He looked the part in Indiana's only meeting with the Jazz last season, finishing with 17 and 10 in a 104-99 home win Feb. 7. Indiana is the NBA's second-lowest scoring team (91.1 points per game) and third-worst from the field (42.0 percent), and it'll run into a Utah team that's started to play better defense of late. The Jazz have allowed an average of 96.0 points over their last four games after giving up 104.2 in their previous six contests.
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