Pacers-Jazz Preview

The Associated Press

While the Indiana Pacers handily got by the Utah Jazz at home last month, they figure to face a much stiffer test in Salt Lake City.

The Pacers look to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss to a Jazz team seeking a season best-tying sixth straight home win Saturday night.

Indiana (26-17) dominated Utah (23-20) in almost every facet during a 104-84 rout Dec. 19. George Hill and Paul George scored 20 points apiece as the Pacers, who led by as many as 32, outscored the Jazz 52-28 in the paint and limited them to 37.2 percent shooting.

"They are a good defensive team," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do early. They forced a lot of late shot-clock shots, most of them from the perimeter."

The Pacers, giving up 89.3 points per game to rank second in the NBA, have proven anything but stifling during their last five road matchups against the Jazz. Indiana has allowed an average of 106.2 points and been outscored by 16.4 in those one-sided affairs, dropping to 6-19 at Utah dating to 1986.

The Pacers also struggled defensively Wednesday in a 100-80 loss at Portland. George and David West combined for 43 points but Indiana posted a season-worst 56.4 opponent field-goal percentage and matched a season low with 34 rebounds.

"They played a little bit more aggressive than we did," West said. "We just weren't there for one another on the defensive end. … We know we're better than that defensively.

"Any time you let a team shoot that good of a percentage from the floor, you really don't have a chance to win the game."

Coach Frank Vogel's team, which is 29th in the league with 87.9 points per game on the road, could have a hard time getting back on track against the Jazz. Excluding two losses to the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah has gone 14-2 at home while allowing just 92.9 points per contest.

The Jazz have won 13 of 14 against Eastern Conference teams on their own court since the start of 2011-12, including all five games this season by an average of 12.0 points. They've also strung together five in a row at home overall.

Utah is surely looking forward to getting back there after a 102-84 road loss to the Lakers on Friday. The Jazz, who had won four straight and six of seven, were outrebounded 45-30 and outscored 54-40 in the lane.

"We have to understand how we have to play against a team that's playing physical like they are and be ready to go again (Saturday) night," Corbin told the league's official website. "It's going to be a tough one against Indiana."

Al Jefferson managed just 12 points on 5-of-14 from the field Friday while former Pacer Jamaal Tinsley shot 3 of 12 to finish with six.

Averaging a team-high 17.0 points, Jefferson was held to a season worst-tying four points on 1-of-8 shooting versus Indiana in December. He had scored 22.2 per game in his previous five matchups against the Pacers.

George is averaging 21.5 at home compared to 14.1 on the road. He's scored at least 20 in two of his last three games in opposing arenas, though.

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