Nets-Pacers Preview

The Associated Press

After a couple of much-needed days off, the Indiana Pacers will look to begin another home winning streak against a team that's had trouble beating them at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers attempt to get back on track by winning a sixth straight home meeting with the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Central Division-leading Indiana (31-20) had won five straight games before Friday's 100-98 overtime loss to Toronto that seemed like a cruel joke being played on a fatigued team fighting through its fourth game in five nights - including a back-to-back-to-back stretch.

''We understood that after winning three in a row in three nights that we weren't out of the clear,'' coach Frank Vogel said.

The Pacers had tired legs and their 15-game home winning streak ended as they dropped to 20-4 in Indianapolis.

''We're pretty fatigued. I felt like (Friday) was the toughest day of this whole stretch, even through the back-to-back-to-back,'' said Paul George who finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds Friday.

Vogel still didn't take it easy on his team in Sunday's practice, trying to get his players back into a routine.

"It wasn't light," Vogel told the team's official website. "It was more like let's get them back running up and down, playing, feeling together and hopefully settle into more of a normal week this week."

He also said the Pacers aren't taking Friday's defeat lightly despite being in a good position with the All-Star break approaching.

"The bigger picture for us is we felt like we let one slip away the other night," Vogel said. "Every game matters, it doesn't matter who our opponent is. Every game is huge right now. We're a half-game ahead of Chicago right now in our division."

Indiana, though, has dropped its last two meetings with Brooklyn - both on the road - including a 97-86 loss Jan. 13. David West, who scored 30 points Friday, netted 27 in that contest.

The Nets, though, have struggled of late. They've dropped six of nine after falling 111-86 to San Antonio on Sunday, and each of the losses have come by an average of 17.7 points.

Brooklyn (29-22) led by six at halftime but was outscored 30-14 in the third quarter.

''I don't know what it is, but you know, it just seems when a team makes a run on us, man, it just takes the air out of us,'' said Joe Johnson, who scored a team-high 19 points. ''It shouldn't be that way. We should be able to respond, but it hasn't been the case.''

Deron Williams, who scored 22 points and added nine assists in the first meeting with the Pacers, said the boos the Nets received from the home crowd weren't unwarranted.

"I mean, (we) deserve it,'' said Williams, who will miss this game and Wednesday's contest at home against Denver after getting treatment on his ankles. "These people pay money to come see us play and play better than that. You can't ever be mad at that.''

P.J. Carlesimo won 12 of his first 14 games as interim coach, but he's finding things to be more difficult during this stretch, during which the Nets are shooting 43.0 percent.

"A lot of the things that we did well, we stopped doing," Carlesimo said.

Indiana has won eight of the last nine meetings between these teams at home.

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