(AP) — The Indiana Pacers are riding their longest home win streak in 10 years as their NBA-leading defense gets ready for a test.
The Pacers look for their 11th straight home win as they try to hand the high-scoring Houston Rockets a sixth straight defeat Friday night.
Indiana (24-16) is enjoying its longest run at home since a 14-game streak Nov. 28, 2002-Jan. 26, 2003. The Pacers are allowing a league-low 89.1 points per game overall, and that figure is at 82.6 during this home streak.
Houston (21-19) enters on its longest slide since a six-game skid in April, but James Harden and company could pose problems. Harden is averaging 26.3 points for a Rockets club that is second in the league with 105.4 points per game.
Both teams had the day off Thursday after some difficult back-to-back sets of games.
Indiana split two sets in the past week, losing both of the second contests by 97-86 scores at Brooklyn on Sunday and at Orlando on Wednesday.
The Pacers did not want to blame the schedule after allowing the Magic to shoot 46.5 percent and hit 12 3-pointers – a season high for an Indiana opponent.
“I believe it is our fourth game in five nights so fatigue can play a factor,” guard George Hill said. “There is no time for excuses and everybody in the NBA goes through them. You still have to come to battle every day. We will take this loss as a team and hold our heads high and get back to work on Friday.”
Houston will begin its fifth straight set of back-to-back games after failing to pick up a win in the last two. The Rockets fell 105-100 at Dallas on Wednesday as Harden went 5 for 23 from the floor, although he scored 20 points.
“James played hard,” coach Kevin McHale said. “He got to the line 12 times. He had some looks that he normally makes and missed some, but you’re going to have nights like that.”
The Pacers yield an average of 20.6 foul shots, among the lowest in the league, but Harden presents a challenge as he is among the league leaders with 9.9 attempts per game.
Houston got some sloppy play from its key perimeter players Wednesday as Harden, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Delfino combined for 13 of its 16 turnovers that led to 24 points.
“You’ve just got to make the easy play,” Harden said. “We were trying to do a little too much, one extra dribble too much.”
While Indiana excels defensively, it’s the second-lowest scoring team in the NBA with 91.1 points per game.
No Pacers player has scored 30 in any of the last 27 games. The only team with a longer such drought is Washington, which has not had a player exceed 27 all season.
Indiana is the top rebounding team in the league at 46.4 per game and will faces Houston center Omer Asik, averaging 11.2 boards. The 7-footer has never started against the Pacers as he goes up against 7-2 center Roy Hibbert, who averages 2.7 blocks and 8.4 rebounds.