The Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers have followed their longest losing streak of the season with a pair of wins over two of the NBA’s weakest teams.
They appear to have another favorable matchup against the sputtering Detroit Pistons.
Indiana tries to keep rolling and add another blow to the Pistons’ playoff hopes when these Central Division foes meet in Detroit on Saturday night.
The Pacers (48-17) had dropped four straight by an average of 15.2 points before getting back on track with Tuesday’s 94-83 victory over Boston. They pulled out a tougher-than-expected 101-94 win at Philadelphia on Friday, handing the 76ers a 19th consecutive loss.
Paul George led the way with 25 points as Indiana shot a season-high 58.2 percent. David West also came up big with 18 points for the Pacers, who never trailed Friday.
"This game could have easily been a blowout-type of game. You’ve got to give them credit, they kept battling," said George, whose team nearly blew a 17-point lead. "I think we’re playing some pretty good basketball."
Indiana, which has already clinched a playoff spot, is one win away from matching its total from last season.
The Pacers had outscored the Pistons by an average of 15.7 points during a six-game winning streak before falling 101-96 on Dec. 16. Josh Smith scored 30 points as Detroit led wire-to-wire that night, snapping Indiana’s franchise-best 11-0 start at home.
The Pistons (25-40) would love to see a repeat performance as they try to keep pace in the playoff hunt. Detroit, 4-11 since Jon Loyer replaced Maurice Cheeks as coach Feb. 9, is four games behind Atlanta for the East’s eighth and final postseason spot.
The Pistons could be looking forward to getting back home after suffering their 10th consecutive road loss, 101-87 at Toronto on Wednesday. They were outrebounded 54-39 and shot 10 of 24 from the foul line.
"They dominated us on the boards," said Loyer, whose team is averaging 45.0 rebounds. "We’re one of the best rebounding teams in the league and we didn’t consistently block out, we weren’t the most physical team which led to a lot of second shots. They out-competed us in the lane."
Detroit also committed 17 turnovers that led to 20 points for Toronto.
"I don’t know, it happens throughout the course of the season," Smith said. "You aren’t going to play perfect basketball and tonight was just a night where we turned the ball over a little more than we expected."
Brandon Jennings scored 24 points Wednesday, but he’s averaging just 10.2 over the last 10 games. Jennings has been limited to 12.8 points per contest and 23.8 percent shooting during a four-game stretch versus Indiana.
Smith has averaged 20.8 points in 20 meetings against the Pacers since 2007-08, his highest mark against any team during that time.
It’s unclear if Indiana’s Andrew Bynum will be available after sitting out against Philadelphia. The oft-injured center had eight points and 10 boards in 16 minutes during his Pacers debut Tuesday.
"I need to get game minutes, obviously," Bynum said. "But I don’t want to miss four or five consecutive days. The whole point is to stay around and play as many games as possible."