The Indiana Pacers are trying to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their next two games should give them a good chance to solidify their standing.
Indiana (30-40) is 1 1/2 games ahead of Charlotte and Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East. The Pacers have 12 games remaining while the Bucks and Bobcats, who are off until they host Indiana on Wednesday, have 13 left.
The Pacers had won three of four before suffering a 99-78 loss at Memphis on Saturday. After beating Chicago in overtime the night before, fatigue may have been a factor as Indiana shot 35.6 percent and was held to 37 points in the second half.
Granger shot 5 of 15 from the field and scored 17 points. He has shot below 37.0 percent the last three games.
“Our offense right now is not doing a good job of getting shots for us, getting shots for myself,” he said. “We’re just going one-on-one. The ball just kinds of dies and stops.”
Granger was held to 11 points in his most recent game against New Jersey (22-46), but he’s averaged 22.0 in the last eight meetings.
Looking to gain a half-game over Charlotte on Monday, Indiana will not having to contend with Williams, who will miss at least two more games with a wrist injury.
The star point guard has struggled since first injuring the wrist before being acquired from Utah last month, and New Jersey hopes he won’t have to be shut down for the season.
“It’s something that we know, rest - not surgery - is required,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We’ll treat him. We’ll rest him.”
Williams has played eight games with the Nets.
Without Williams, New Jersey lost 98-92 to Washington on Sunday. The Nets led by 17 just before the half, but were outscored 28-12 in the third quarter as they went 4 of 15 from the field in that period.
It was the club’s third straight defeat.
“I told our players, ‘This loss was really painful,”’ Johnson said. “We were pretty good in the first half. In the second half, we weren’t very good.”
Jordan Farmar(notes) started in Williams’ place and had 10 points and a career-high 17 assists, while Kris Humphries(notes) had 18 points with 17 rebounds and Brook Lopez(notes) added 21 points and 10 boards. New Jersey outrebounded Washington 47-32 but allowed the Wizards to shoot 51.9 percent.
Indiana has outscored New Jersey 110.5-93.2 during the six consecutive victories, and has won nine of the last 10 matchups. The Pacers haven’t won seven in a row over the Nets since a seven-game run March 21, 1989-Dec. 29, 1990.
Indiana, winner of four straight on the road in the series, has never won five in a row at New Jersey.
The Pacers took the most recent meeting 105-86 at Newark on Feb. 6.