It’s too little too late for the Indiana Pacers. However, a strong stretch - especially at home - has them encouraged about their future.
The Pacers look to win for the 10th time in 11 games at Conseco Fieldhouse as they conclude their season series with the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
Indiana (29-48) is already assured of missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, one shy of the team record set from 1982-86.
The Pacers might be feeling they can avoid matching that dubious mark next season after winning seven of nine following a 4-14 stretch in which they averaged 99.5 points.
They’re averaging 108.5 points during their run at home, with the lone defeat a 105-96 overtime loss to Miami on Friday.
Indiana regrouped Sunday with its best offensive performance of the season, beating Houston 133-102 as eight players scored in double figures and three pulled down at least 11 rebounds. The nine-game run at home includes wins over Chicago, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Utah and the Rockets - all teams either qualified or trying to reach the playoffs.
“It’s very important,” forward Danny Granger(notes) said of the team’s recent run on the league’s official Web site. “First of all, we’ve been beating teams that are in the playoffs and battling for playoff position. We’ve been beating teams we’re supposed to beat. We’ve got to carry it over into next season.
“It’s important to establish that type of basketball.”
Josh McRoberts(notes), a native of Indianapolis, is looking to capitalize on some increased playing time as he makes a case for a more prominent role next season. The forward-center had a career-high 18 points and tied his personal best with 12 boards off the bench Sunday.
He’s averaging 4.3 points and 2.9 boards in 37 games - three starts - in his third NBA season.
“He’s getting some time and showing he can really play,” said guard Mike Dunleavy, who had 15 points. “He’s got a chance to improve a lot. He’s a nice piece for this team.”
The Pacers have dropped two of three to the Knicks this season, including a 110-103 loss at Conseco on Nov. 18. They lost the most recent matchup in New York (28-49), falling 132-89 on Jan. 3.
The Knicks will miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season, but are looking for their first three-game winning streak since Jan. 1-7.
Danilo Gallinari(notes) had a career-high 31 points, including the go-ahead basket with 36 seconds left Tuesday to power a 104-101 win over Boston, which has already clinched a third consecutive Atlantic Division title.
The forward, who is averaging 14.6 points, is seeking some consistency after being held to nine points on 4-for-14 shooting in Sunday’s 113-107 road win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Gallinari had 20 points and eight rebounds in the last meeting with Indiana.