The defense-oriented Indiana Pacers recently resembled their upcoming opponent. That seems to be fine with coach Rick Carlisle.
The Pacers try for their seventh straight win when they visit the high-scoring Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center.
A 114-107 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night set a season high in points for Indiana, which shot 51 percent from the field while allowing the Magic to shoot 50 percent. Jermaine O’Neal scored 25 points, Ron Artest had 23 and Al Harrington added 19 as six Pacers scored in double figures.
Wednesday’s game marked the most points given up this season by the Pacers, who allow 82.8 points per game to rank fourth in the league in scoring defense. They surrendered 43 points to Orlando’s Tracy McGrady as he became the first Indiana opponent to make eight 3-pointers.
“This is an unusual type of game for us,” said Carlisle, whose team played eight games in 12 days. “But when you win six in a row, I’m not going to nitpick.”
Before this win streak, which includes wins over Memphis, New Orleans and Boston, the Pacers had lost two straight for the first time this season.
“I think the intensity we have now as a team is much better,” Harrington said. “This team has a lot of pride and I think losing two games lit a fire under us. With the talent we have, we should never lose two in a row.”
The Mavericks, who have alternated wins and losses in their last four games, have scored at least 100 points in 11 of their last 13 games. They are second in the league with 102.3 points per game.
Nash, bothered by a back injury suffered in a loss at Utah two days earlier, was 1-of-9 from the floor but made two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win. He finished with seven points and 12 assists in 41 minutes.
“What a gutsy game,” Mavs coach Don Nelson said. “We certainly wouldn’t have won without him.”
STANDINGS (through Jan. 7): Pacers - 1st place (tied), Central Division. Mavericks - 3rd place (tied), 3 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Pacers - O’Neal, 20.7 ppg and 10.5 rpg; Tinsley, 4.2 apg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 20.1 ppg; Walker, 9.4 rpg; Nash, 8.2 apg.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 17, 2002; Mavericks, 118-97. At Dallas, Finley had 33 points and 13 rebounds in three quarters as the Mavericks set a franchise record for best start to a season at home, going 12-0.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pacers - 13-6 on the road; Mavericks - 16-2 at home.
INJURIES: Pacers - F Jonathan Bender (knee); F Primoz Brezec (Achilles’); G Kenny Anderson (calf). Mavericks - G Josh Howard (hamstring); F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); G Jon Stefansson (ankle); F Eduardo Najera (knee).