Pacers-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

Not only do the Indiana Pacers have the best record in the NBA, but they also have the best road winning percentage in the Eastern Conference.

That strength away from home will be needed Tuesday night if the Pacers are going to record their first regular-season road victory against the Atlanta Hawks in over seven years.

Indiana (37-10) has dropped 12 consecutive regular-season games in Atlanta since a win on Dec. 22, 2006, the team's longest active road losing streak against any opponent. Most of the matchups haven't been close, with the Pacers losing by an average of 10.6 points per contest.

The Pacers did, however, win in Philips Arena 81-73 on May 3, 2013, in the series-clinching Game 6 of last season's first-round playoff series.

''I'm very proud of our guys to come in here, a tough place to win,'' coach Frank Vogel said following that victory. "(Atlanta) is a particularly tough place for us to win."

Indiana lost its first visit to Atlanta this season, 97-87 on Jan. 8 despite 28 points from Paul George.

The NBA leaders are 9-3 since that game, including a 98-79 victory over visiting Orlando on Monday. Danny Granger had a season-high 16 points off the bench, while George and Lance Stephenson each scored 15 in the wire-to-wire win.

Granger's performance was particularly encouraging after he missed the first 25 games of the season because of a strained calf. In seven games prior to Monday's win, the former All-Star had scored just 5.9 points per contest on 13 of 43 (30.2 percent) from the field.

Indiana has one of the lowest-scoring reserve units in the league, with its bench players averaging 25.3 points per game.

"We made a point of trying to get Danny going (versus Orlando)," Pacers forward David West said. "I thought he did a good job of coming out getting shots, getting his looks. He's getting his legs back under him, his timing's coming, and we know that our bench is dangerous."

West and fellow big man Ian Mahinmi each sustained injuries Monday, but both said they should be ready to play Tuesday.

The Hawks (25-21) seek their sixth win in eight games after overcoming Kevin Love's 43 points for a 120-113 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. Four players scored at least 19 points, led by Kyle Korver's 24 on 7-of-9 shooting.

Coach Mike Budenholzer said defense sparked Atlanta's comeback from an 11-point deficit in the second quarter.

''I think the third quarter tonight was something we can reference going forward on how we want to play, particularly defensively, to hold them to 21 points in a quarter with the way they can score,'' he said.

While Budenholzer credited his team's defense for Saturday's win, his offense has been much improved lately also.

Atlanta is averaging 111.0 points in its last eight contests, nearly 10 points more than it scored per game in its first 38.

Also critical recently for the Hawks has been their depth, evidenced by having five double-digit scorers in each of the past four games.

Korver led five players in double figures with 17 points in the Hawks' win over Indiana in January.

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