With a chance to win three straight for the first time this season, the Pacers look to continue their success at Conseco Fieldhouse and remain unbeaten there against the Bobcats when they meet Saturday night.
Indiana (17-14) won at Charlotte (8-21) 106-99 in the teams’ Nov. 1 season opener.
The Pacers have been inconsistent since but have been strong at home— particularly on defense—as they’ve held opponents to 89.5 points per game en route to a 9-4 record at Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana is second in the NBA in scoring defense at home.
In contrast, the Pacers have allowed 101.1 points per game and gone 8-10 on the road.
Indiana, which has won consecutive games for the seventh time this season, will try for three straight wins as it faces a Charlotte team it has dominated at home. The Pacers are 4-0 all-time against the Bobcats at Conseco Fieldhouse, holding Charlotte to 85.3 points per game.
Darrell Armstrong made a free throw with 0.9 seconds left to give Indiana a 93-92 victory over Detroit on Friday night.
“This can be an important win for us,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “But it will only be big if we can sustain this.”
Jermaine O’Neal had 25 points and 13 rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing Indiana’s previous game with flu-like symptoms.
“I’m probably 65 or 70 percent,” O’Neal said. “This is the best I’ve felt in the last five days, though. They think it might have been the beginnings of pneumonia, but I’m bouncing back now.”
O’Neal is averaging 24.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in six career games against the Bobcats.
Charlotte ended a three-game losing streak Friday night, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 133-124 in the first triple-overtime game in Bobcats history.
“I’m hurting, no question,” said Charlotte guard Raymond Felton, who had 22 points and 15 assists in 57 minutes. “But this was one of the best games in history. I’m glad I was a part of it.”
The Bobcats have one of the league’s worst records, but were able to get another win against a good team. Five of their eight victories have come against Utah, Detroit, Orlando, San Antonio and the Lakers—all teams with winning records.
Emeka Okafor had 22 points, four blocks and a career-high 25 rebounds against the Lakers. He had 19 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against the Pacers in the season opener.
Charlotte rookie Adam Morrison has struggled lately. He was held to five points on 1-of-15 shooting Friday night, and is shooting only 31 percent (32-for-102) from the field over his last seven games.