A favorable stretch against some inferior opponents has allowed the Indiana Pacers to regroup following their longest losing streak of the season.
The Pacers look for a third consecutive victory when they host the lowly New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night.
Indiana (19-12) snapped a five-game skid with a 93-88 win over New Jersey on Thursday, then followed with a 108-73 rout of Charlotte on Sunday.
Consecutive victories over a pair of teams with a combined 14 wins has the Pacers back on track. They have a chance to make further progress with games against New Orleans (7-24) and the four-win Bobcats before this weekend's All-Star break.
Roy Hibbert had 18 points with 14 rebounds while Danny Granger and former Hornet David West each scored 14 as the Pacers went 39 of 78 from the field Sunday. The 73 points allowed were the fewest by Indiana since an 86-73 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 25, 2010.
"I wish we could win them all like that,'' Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
That's very much possible with their two remaining games this week.
Though the Pacers have lost six of seven to the Hornets, New Orleans is last in the Western Conference and looks to bounce back after its season-high three-game winning streak was snapped with a 101-93 loss at Oklahoma City on Monday.
Tuesday's contest marks West's first game against the team he spent the previous eight seasons with before signing with Indiana in December. Though West (12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds per game) has seen his scoring and rebounding production slip because he's surrounded with more talented players like Granger and Hibbert, he's averaged 16.1 points and 7.4 boards in the last seven games.
Headed to his first All-Star game, Hibbert is averaging 16.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the last three. Despite being held to two and three rebounds in a 94-93 home win over the Hornets on Dec. 20, 2010, Hibbert has averaged 16.0 points in three career contests versus New Orleans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana also could receive a boost if defensive stalwart George Hill returns Tuesday from an 11-game absence due to an ankle injury.
The Pacers are 14-5 with Hill on the court, allowing an average of 90.5 points and 41.6 percent shooting in those contests. They've given up 94.8 points per game on 44.5 percent shooting while going 5-7 without him this season.
"He's a sound basketball player," Vogel told the Pacers' official website. "He's a guy that's in his help spots all the time. He's a guy that's very good on the ball. Just his solid fundamentals defensively in transition and the halfcourt, as well, have been a factor."
Ex-Pacer Jarrett Jack had 18 points, five assists and five rebounds Monday as the Hornets fell to 2-1 on a six-game road stretch that continues after the All-Star break.
"It's a learning process for a young team like us,'' said second-year guard Greivis Vasquez, who had 15 points against the Thunder. "It doesn't come overnight.''
Jack is averaging a career-high 14.9 points, but has totaled 18 on 6-of-23 shooting in three games at Indiana since he spent the 2008-09 season with the Pacers.
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- Indiana Pacers
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- Roy Hibbert