The Indiana Pacers have proven they can compete with some of the top teams in the league. It’s the ones near the bottom of the standings that seem to give them trouble.
After beating one of the best teams in the NBA their last time out, the Pacers look to avoid a letdown on Sunday when they visit the league-worst Washington Wizards.
Indiana (20-31) is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, but has wins over three division leaders—Orlando, Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers—as well as Detroit, Houston and Phoenix.
On Friday, the Pacers defeated the Magic 107-102 to snap a three-game losing streak.
While Indiana has compiled an impressive list of teams it’s beaten, it’s also lost games to Memphis, Golden State, Toronto, Charlotte and the Los Angeles Clippers—five of the league’s nine worst teams record-wise.
“I have yet to figure it out,” All-Star forward Danny Granger said. “I guess we might be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-type team. We just show two different teams on any given night, but if we can get consistent, we’ll be OK.”
Despite having the tendency of losing games they should win, the Pacers defeated the Wizards 118-98 on Dec. 15 in the only meeting this season.
Granger led Indiana with 27 points and nine rebounds in that victory over Washington (10-40), and carried the Pacers in Friday’s win.
The 6-foot-9 Granger, who has been dealing with a sore right knee, attacked the basket and scored 33 points against Orlando. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter, and said the knee wasn’t a factor down the stretch.
“I just switched my game up, tried to rely a little bit on driving because my shot was a little bit off, especially with the knee,” said Granger, who went 12-for-12 from the free-throw line. “Driving to the basket and getting to the line is easy points.”
Granger now looks to help Indiana snap a season-high seven-game road losing streak.
He hasn’t been very productive away from home lately, averaging 15.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in his last three road games after averaging 34.0 points in his previous three away from Conseco Fieldhouse.
Granger shouldn’t have much trouble scoring against a Wizards team allowing an average of 117.3 points during a three-game losing streak.
Washington, which has dropped eight of nine, fell to Denver 124-103 on Friday to surpass last season’s loss total (39).
“I’ve been in the league for 11 years, this has probably been the toughest stretch, the most difficult stretch, of my career,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “And we still have another 30-some-odd games in the second half of the season to deal with.”
Jamison, the only member of the Wizards’ ideal starting lineup in uniform, led Washington with 26 points and eight rebounds on Friday.
His co-captain, Caron Butler, missed a second consecutive game with the flu, joining the lengthy list of missing players: Gilbert Arenas (knee), Brendan Haywood (wrist), DeShawn Stevenson (back), Etan Thomas (knee) and Andray Blatche (knee).
Jamison had 26 points and 15 boards in the loss to the Pacers in December.