Indiana has lost five straight games after a 102-96 defeat Tuesday to Chicago. On the verge of a key road win, the Pacers squandered a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and a chance to put some distance between themselves and eighth-place Philadelphia.
“They played that fourth quarter like they had something at stake, like they wanted to go to the playoffs,” Pacers guard Stephen Jackson said. “And we played like we didn’t want to go to the playoffs.”
The Pacers lead the Sixers—who also lost Tuesday—by one game for seventh place in the Eastern Conference with nine remaining. Indiana, however, has a favorable schedule down the stretch and plays just two teams with any chance of reaching the playoffs.
Jackson scored 22 points for Indiana, which is trying to avoid matching its season high for consecutive losses from Jan. 20-31.
Pacers power forward Jermaine O’Neal was held to 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting and has struggled since returning March 22 from a groin injury.
O’Neal, who missed 24 games, has averaged 15.0 points on 44.2 percent shooting in seven games and has not recorded consecutive 20-point games since Dec. 27-30.
Toronto will miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and is trying to snap a five-game losing streak of its own after a 124-120 loss Tuesday to Boston.
The Raptors have given up 383 points their last three games and an average of 121.2 points during their losing streak.
Morris Peterson scored 32 points, again picking up the offensive slack for injured leading scorer Chris Bosh, who is sidelined with a sprained thumb. Peterson, who played all 48 minutes in Tuesday’s loss, has averaged 31.3 points in his last four games.
“We can’t hang our heads and say this was a lost season,” Peterson said. “I think, if this team continues to grow and play with the core guys that we have, I think in the future we can definitely make the playoffs.”
The Raptors have won consecutive games at Conseco Fieldhouse after losing their previous six games there.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Raptors - 12-24 on the road; Pacers - 22-14 at home.