Fresh off their first victory on the road in more than a month, the Indiana Pacers return to a court where all they’ve done lately is win.
The Pacers go for their fourth straight victory overall and season-high sixth in a row at Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday, when they face a Washington Wizards team expected to be without one of its top players as it tries to avoid matching a franchise-record losing streak.
Led by Danny Granger’s(notes) second consecutive 32-point outing and 20 from Brandon Rush(notes), Indiana (25-46) posted its first season series sweep of Detroit and snapped a nine-game road losing streak with a 98-83 win Tuesday. It was the Pacers’ first road win since Feb. 20 against Houston.
“We got a little sluggish (in the first half), but I thought we came out really well and played good second half of basketball, especially defensively,” said coach Jim O’Brien, whose team hasn’t won four straight since a five-game run from Nov. 4-17.
Indiana, which plays eight of its final 11 games at Conseco Fieldhouse, last won six straight at home from Feb. 6-March 1, 2009.
Facing a Wizards team winless since beating seven-win New Jersey on Feb. 28 could help the Pacers extend their home-court dominance.
Washington dropped its 12th straight Tuesday, 95-86 in overtime to Charlotte, leaving it one defeat shy of the franchise record set in 1967 and matched from March 21-April 13, 1995.
The losing apparently has taken a toll on Andray Blatche(notes), who was benched after refusing to talk to coach Flip Saunders about playing better defense. The forward, who has averaged 23.2 points his previous 18 games, isn’t expected to play as the Wizards also try to end a seven-game road skid.
“He didn’t want to hear it,” Saunders said. “I told him, ‘If you don’t come and talk, if you don’t want to be coached, you’re not going to play.’ We had coaches go up to him three different times, they said he didn’t want to play. Fifteen years, never seen anything like it.”
The Wizards will try to move past this distraction and snap a four-game slide in Indiana. In the teams’ last matchup at Conseco Fieldhouse on Nov. 6, the Pacers won 102-86 despite shooting 40.0 percent from the field.
Troy Murphy(notes) missed that contest with a bruised lower back, but he scored a season-high 28 points with 12 rebounds in a 114-113 victory at Washington on Dec. 12. Murphy has posted six double-doubles in his last seven games.
Granger was sidelined for the Dec. 12 victory with a heel injury, but he enters this matchup playing some of his best ball of the season, scoring 31.0 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting during the Pacers’ winning streak.
Granger is averaging 28.8 points in his last five games versus Washington.
The Wizards and Pacers finish the regular season April 14 in the nation’s capital.