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Wizards-Pacers Preview

AP - Sports

The Indiana Pacers followed a win over one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference with a loss to one of the worst.

They'll try for a better effort against another lowly opponent Thursday night when they host the Washington Wizards.

On Wednesday, Indiana was trying to win its third straight for the first time since a six-game winning streak Feb. 16-March 3, but the Pacers struggled in a 100-84 loss at New Jersey.

It was especially disappointing coming off a 105-90 victory over Miami two nights earlier. Indiana (29-20) held the Heat to 42.0 percent shooting, but let the Nets make half their shots in the second half, getting outscored 31-17 in the fourth quarter.

Limited by foul trouble, Danny Granger played 21 minutes, fouling out with five points and four turnovers. He came in having scored at least 25 points in three of the previous five games.

Fatigue might have been a factor, with Indiana set to play its sixth game in eight nights Thursday. The Pacers had 18 turnovers Wednesday and gave up at least 100 points for the third time in four games.

"I think every team in the NBA has nights where the energy isn't there, and that was certainly the case tonight," coach Frank Vogel said. "Anytime you play like that you're concerned."

Indiana is allowing 93.3 points per game this season - seventh in the NBA - while giving up 100 or more just 12 times, but seven of those came in its last 13 contests. The Pacers are 2-10 when surrendering triple digits.

They did a good job of shutting down the Wizards last week, escaping with an 85-83 road win last Thursday. Indiana has won four straight and eight of 10 between the two, holding Washington to an average of 94.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting in the last four meetings.

The Pacers have a good chance at keeping those numbers low against a Washington team that hasn't reached the 80-point mark in its last two games.

The Wizards (11-38) have lost four straight, including a 79-77 defeat versus Detroit on Monday. The Pistons hit the winning shot with 0.2 seconds left after erasing a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Jordan Crawford scored 20 points to lead Washington, which has suffered three losses by three points or fewer during the losing streak. John Wall scored nine of his 14 points in the first half as his shooting struggles continued.

Wall is averaging 12.4 points and shooting 30.9 percent the last five games.

The former No. 1 overall pick said it's been a trying season. While Washington has the second-worst record in the NBA and has dropped nine of 11, Wall expects the Wizards to eventually turn things around - although probably not this season.

"It's not easy for me," Wall said. "When I was picked, I knew it was going to be a tough rebuilding process. ... One thing is, you just come in early and be the last one to leave the gym, just be a leader that way and make sure you're working on your game and getting better every day. The time will come that things will change around."

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