The Indiana Pacers haven't had any success against some of the Eastern Conference's top teams in the last week. A game against the struggling Portland Trail Blazers could help them break out of their funk.
The Pacers try to avoid their second five-game losing streak in the last month Tuesday night when they host the Trail Blazers, who hope to win back-to-back games for the first time in seven weeks.
Indiana (23-16) is in fifth place in the East, but isn't looking like much of a threat to make a postseason run considering its play against other top contenders. The Pacers are coming off consecutive losses to Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and Orlando and have dropped their last nine games to teams that currently have winning records.
Their four-game skid came after they had won six in a row with all of the victories coming against sub-.500 teams, including two apiece over the worst in each conference - New Orleans and Charlotte.
Immediately prior to that winning streak, the Pacers lost five straight from Feb. 8-15.
"We've been here before,'' swingman Paul George said after a 107-94 loss to the Magic on Sunday. "At the same time, we're still in a good position. We're still a good team. Just keep working."
The offense needs to come around for Indiana to return to its winning ways. The Pacers are averaging 88.3 points and shooting 26.7 percent from 3-point range during their slide after averaging 104.0 points and 41.0 percent from beyond the arc during their winning streak.
All-Star center Roy Hibbert has averaged 7.5 points and 35.5 percent from the field in his last four after averaging 14.3 points and 60.0 percent in the previous five.
Indiana could have better luck against Portland (20-21), which has dropped five of seven with the two wins coming over New Orleans and Washington, two of the league's three worst teams. The Trail Blazers' defense was abysmal in the five defeats, as they allowed an average of 108.6 points and 46.9 percent from 3-point range.
Forward Danny Granger, Indiana's leader at 18.1 points per game, has also regularly been at his best offensively against Portland. In his last six games versus the Blazers, he's averaging 27.7 points - his second-highest average against any team.
Despite the outstanding efforts from Granger, Indiana hasn't enjoyed much success against Portland. The teams haven't met since the Pacers won 100-87 at home Feb. 4, 2011, to snap a five-game losing streak in the series.
The Blazers arrive in Indiana for the fourth game of a season-high seven-game road trip after a 110-99 win over the Wizards on Saturday - just their third victory in 12 games away from the Rose Garden. The win was an uplifting one for Portland, which hasn't earned back-to-back victories since Jan. 23 and 24, after it trailed by as much as 43 in a 104-86 loss to Boston on Friday.
"Whenever you lose, especially the way we lost, we're blessed to have an opportunity to come back the next night,'' said guard Jamal Crawford, who had 23 points against Washington.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 30 points and shot 12 of 15 to go with 10 rebounds. The All-Star forward has averaged 24.7 points and shot 68.2 percent in his last three games after totaling 24 points in his previous two.
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Indiana Pacers