The Indiana Pacers are playing some of their best basketball of
the season when it seems to matter the least.
Led by Danny Granger, the Pacers try for a fourth consecutive
victory and a sweep of the season series from the lowly New Jersey
Nets on Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Indiana (31-48) will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight
time, but it has a chance to salvage another disappointing season
with a strong finish. The Pacers have won nine of 11 after a
116-113 victory at Cleveland on Friday.
Though the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers rested most of
their regulars, including superstar LeBron James, the Pacers should
gain momentum from that victory as they try to close out the season
on a positive note.
“It’s a great confidence win,” said Granger, who scored 36
points. “I don’t care who isn’t playing for them. They’re still a
very good team.”
Indiana shot 50.6 percent Friday, and has made 52.3 percent of
its shots while averaging 120.7 points during its three-game
Granger has been a big reason for the team’s surge, scoring 30.1
points per game over his last 11 contests. The fifth-year forward
has averaged 25.0 in his last five games against New Jersey.
Indiana has won six of seven from the Nets (12-67), scoring
106.3 points while taking all three meetings this season. The
Pacers haven’t swept a season series from the Nets since
Though New Jersey has endured a frustrating season filled with
injuries and an overall lack of talent, it’s managed to play well
The Nets won for the fifth time in nine games, 127-116 in
double-overtime Friday against Chicago, which is fighting for the
final playoff spot in the East.
“It was a definite playoff atmosphere because we know how much
they needed this game,” said point guard Devin Harris, who had 19
points. “We just (want) to finish the season on a high note, so we
are attacking every game.”
Terrence Williams had 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists off
the bench to become the first Nets rookie with a triple-double
since 2001. Williams is averaging 8.2 points this season, but 14.2
in his last 20 contests.
Brook Lopez added 26 points with 14 boards as the Nets outscored
the Bulls 15-4 in the second overtime.
Lopez has been one of the few bright spots for New Jersey this
season. The second-year pro averages a team-leading 18.9 points
with 8.7 rebounds per contest, and 26.0 with 12.3 boards in three
games against Indiana this season.
Though the latest victory came at home, the Nets have lost eight
straight on the road where they’re 4-35.