Nets-Pacers Preview

(AP) — The Indiana Pacers and New Jersey Nets find themselves in the midst of five and seven game losing streaks, respectively.

While both team’s efforts have left much to be desired, Indiana has to be feeling good about its chances of getting back on track given its recent history in this series.

Hoping to have leading scorer Danny Granger available, the Pacers conclude their first back-to-back-to-back stretch of the season Thursday night seeking a 10th consecutive win over the visiting Nets.

Indiana (17-12) has hit a rough patch after opening the season with 16 wins in 22 games. The Pacers have since dropped six of seven – including five straight by an average of 9.2 points.

“Good teams don’t lose this many games in a row,” David West said. “Right now we can’t call ourselves that. We’re not playing good enough to be a good team. We just don’t have enough resistance. We’re letting teams dictate what they want to do offensively.

“We’re going to have to dig deep and find a way to get out of this.”

One night after falling 105-90 to Miami, Indiana fell behind by 18 at halftime en route to a 98-87 loss at Cleveland on Wednesday.

“We haven’t played well for a week,” coach Frank Vogel said. ” … It’s not an excuse, but I think guys are worn down. It’s been a tough stretch of the schedule against a string of good teams and we’ve had a slew of injuries. It’s just something that will come back around.”

Granger, averaging 18.0 points, was held out Wednesday after suffering a sprained left ankle versus the Heat. The Pacers’ medical staff, however, was encouraged by his progress and he could give it a go in this one.

Granger’s return would undoubtedly provide a boost as Indiana looks to continue its recent domination of New Jersey (8-22). The Pacers have taken 12 of 13 in the series, winning nine in a row by 14.4 points per contest.

The Nets, however, managed to hold their own in a 106-99 loss Jan. 31 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse behind 34 points from Deron Williams.

New Jersey wasted another impressive effort from Williams on Wednesday, falling 105-100 to Memphis despite 26 points and 11 assists from its three-time All-Star.

The Nets have been outscored by an average of 10.5 points during their skid.

“The difference between where we want to be at and where we are right now, right now we are a team that turns the ball over three of four possessions with the game on the line,” said Kris Humphries, who had 10 points and seven boards Wednesday.

“It’s no one’s fault, in particular, we just have to tighten and be able to play under pressure in the fourth quarter. There is no play you can draw up for that. We just have to play basketball and execute. We didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”

DeShawn Stevenson (swollen knees) returned from an eight-game absence Wednesday but went 0 of 5 from the floor. Jordan Farmar, meanwhile, was held out with a strained right groin, leaving his status for Thursday unknown.

Indiana’s Paul George, averaging 12.1 points, has shot 16 of 21 (76.2 percent) – including a 9-of-11 effort from 3-point range – in scoring a combined 45 points in two meetings with the Nets this season.