Not much has gone right for the Indiana Pacers since the All-Star break ended three weeks ago.
The Pacers try to avoid losing their 10th straight game when they visit the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.
Indiana (29-33) fell 99-88 to Cleveland on Sunday, and hasn’t experienced a win since a 136-129 double-overtime victory over Milwaukee on Feb. 21—its first game after the break.
The Pacers haven’t had this long a skid since dropping a franchise-record 12 consecutive games from Jan. 26-Feb. 23, 1989.
“It’s real low,” forward Danny Granger said. “Not since I’ve been playing basketball have I had a losing streak like this. Sooner or later, we’ve got to come out of it.”
Rarely have the games been close during the slide, as the Pacers have been outscored by an average of 15.4 points. They shot 40.0 percent from the floor and missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts against the Cavs, and have shot 40.0 percent or worse in six games of the losing streak.
Six of the defeats have come on the road, with Indiana losing those contests by an average of 17.9 points.
Although they haven’t won a game in more than two weeks, the Pacers are still in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. They were in fourth place in the East before the slump began, but have fallen to seventh.
“We’re in a position right now where we can’t have letups,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Even when shots aren’t going in, our disposition has to be strong and intense.”
Indiana has been without leading scorer Jermaine O’Neal because of a strained left knee in the last two games. The forward is not expected to play Tuesday.
The Pacers recorded their second-lowest point total of the season in a 78-71 loss to the Timberwolves at Conseco Fieldhouse on Dec. 23. Indiana has not been swept in a season series by the Wolves since the Minnesota franchise was established in 1989.
The Timberwolves (27-35) haven’t been much better than the Pacers of late, losing eight of their last 10 games. They fell 99-93 to Atlanta on Saturday for their eighth straight road defeat.
Minnesota is in 12th place in the West, yet trails the eighth-place Los Angeles Clippers by just two games.
“This was a game we pretty much needed and it’s pretty frustrating to not come out on top,” Kevin Garnett said. “At this point we really need to do some soul-searching. We’re all trying to find some answers right now.”
Garnett had 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists against the Hawks, and is averaging 28.5 points and 13.0 boards in his last four games. He had an outstanding performance in the Dec. 23 win over the Pacers, scoring 29 points and matching a season high with 19 boards.