Wizards-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 10, 2012
The Washington Wizards opened last season with eight straight losses. Already halfway there, they now visit a city where they haven't won in over five years. One of two winless teams remaining in the NBA, the Wizards will try to capitalize on the struggling Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. Washington (0-4) started 2011-12 with eight straight losses, and eventually fired coach Flip Saunders with an NBA-worst 2-15 record. So far, the Wizards aren't showing many signs that this season will be any better. They rank near the bottom of the league in scoring (88.8), shooting percentage (40.8) and 3-point percentage and are averaging 17.0 turnovers per game. To make matters worse, Washington is without star guard John Wall (knee) and center Nene (foot). Wall is expected to be sidelined until next month, while there is no definitive timetable for Nene's return. "We just need a win. We need a win," said A.J. Price, who is starting in place of Wall. "We need a win as much as possible." Even a 12-0 head start wasn't enough, as the Wizards blew that lead and turned the ball over 20 times in Friday's 101-91 loss to Milwaukee. Still, guard Bradley Beal - the third overall pick in June's draft - doesn't think frustration is setting in. "That's one thing that we most definitely try to avoid," said Beal, who had a season-high 22 points. "I mean, once we get that, we hang our heads low, then we come out sluggish, and then teams really start beating us. And then we just get into the 'I don't care anymore' mode." Visiting Indiana may only compound the Wizards' problems. They've lost 31 of the last 37 games there, including eight straight during which the Pacers have averaged 107.6 points per game. Recently, the venue hasn't mattered with Washington losing six consecutive meetings. However, the Wizards may be in position to end those slides with the Pacers (2-4) entering this matchup following an 0-3 trip and dealing with a major absence. They found out this week they are going to have to play without star forward Danny Granger for the next three months because of an issue with his left knee. He's led Indiana in scoring in each of the past five seasons. The Pacers aren't faring well without their best offensive weapon, averaging 86.3 points while shooting 39.9 percent from the floor over the past three games. They fell again Friday when the decisive layup was made with 0.8 seconds left in a 96-94 loss at Minnesota. "Our margin for error is very small," coach Frank Vogel said. "We've got young and inexperienced players in there at crunch time. We dropped a couple of games because of it. That's what we're trying to overcome without Danny Granger." Indiana, though, may benefit from a return home. The team won its only home game thus far, beating Sacramento 106-98 in double-overtime last Saturday. David West had 18 points and a season-high 18 rebounds in that contest, and is coming off another impressive performance with 19 and 13, respectively. The forward leads the Pacers with 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, while George Hill is averaging 16.3 points after scoring a season-best 29 against the Timberwolves.
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