Pacers-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 18, 2012
Granger
The Indiana Pacers are still struggling to find their offense without All-Star forward Danny Granger. The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, are having a difficult time simply winning without franchise point guard John Wall. The Pacers will try to snap a six-game road losing streak and beat the Wizards for the eighth straight time as they take on the league's lone winless team on Monday night. With Granger - who averaged a team-high 18.7 points last season - sidelined, Indiana (4-7) has failed to live up to the high expectations after pushing eventual champion Miami to six games in the conference semifinals of the 2012 playoffs. Most of their issues have come offensively, where the Pacers are looking for any kind of spark after failing to reach 80 points for the third time in eight games in an 88-76 loss at New York on Sunday. Paul George scored a season-high 20 points and David West added 14, but Indiana managed only 30 first-half points and committed 19 turnovers overall. The Pacers, who are trying to avoid shooting under 40.0 percent for the fourth time in five games, rank near the bottom of the league in field goal percentage (40.5) and scoring (88.1). Indiana's offensive shortcomings have overshadowed its strong play defensively. It leads the NBA in points allowed (90.1) and field goal percentage (40.3). ''Our defense, you know, we've been No. 1 in the NBA right now defensively," George said. "We knew we could rely on that, but again, we've got to get more shots, better looks, more attempts and take care of the ball." George should be able to get some good looks against the Wizards. He scored 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting in a 89-85 win on Nov. 10. Gerald Green had 15 points and Roy Hibbert added seven points, 12 rebounds and two blocks for the Pacers, who limited the Wizards to 13 fourth-quarter points in that victory. Washington's Emeka Okafor and rookie Bradley Beal had 17 points apiece, while A.J. Price totaled 12 points and 14 assists in the first meeting. Still without Wall and injured starting center Nene, the Wizards (0-8) are trying to avoid a franchise-worst 0-9 start after failing to close out another opponent. Washington managed just 13 points on 4 of 19 shooting in the quarter in a 83-76 loss to Utah and became the second team in NBA history to start 0-8 in back-to-back seasons. ''It's tough,'' coach Randy Wittman said. ''I don't know how else to put it.'' Wittman tried to shake things up against the Jazz by putting leading scorer Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely in the starting lineup in place of Trevor Booker and Beal, the third overall pick who has just 22 points on 7 of 31 shooting over his last three games since his 17-point effort against the Pacers. Crawford scored 20 points to lead Washington, but the change didn't improve the team's fortunes. The Wizards, last in the NBA at 86.6 points per game, scored just 76 for the second time in three games. "I've got to help them believe in themselves right now," Wittman said. "We're low on confidence right now from an offensive standpoint.''
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