Indiana At Houston
When: 9:30 PM
ET, Friday, March 7, 2014
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
The Indiana Pacers will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season Friday night when they visit the Houston Rockets, owners of the NBA’s best record since Jan. 1. The Pacers are coming off Wednesday’s humbling loss to the host Charlotte Bobcats, a night after they fell to the visiting Golden State Warriors, and leading scorer Paul George had his worst shooting performance as a pro, missing all nine field-goal attempts and scoring two points against the Bobcats.
Houston improved to 21-6 in 2014 with a 101-89 win Wednesday at the Orlando Magic, a night after knocking off the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Pacers struggled to defend the interior against Charlotte and could run into similar problems against the Dwight Howard-led Rockets, who outscored the Magic 58-26 in the paint. Howard outplayed Indiana center Roy Hibbert when these teams met Dec. 20 in Indianapolis, but the Pacers won 114-81 to end their only other two-game losing streak this season.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Fox Sports Indiana, CSN Houston
ABOUT INDIANA (46-15): The Pacers are beginning to show some wear and tear in the second half of the season. They were 33-7 following a win at Golden State on Jan. 20 but have since hit two patches where they lost three of five and now dropped two straight, drawing the Heat within two games of the top spot in the East. George told reporters after the Charlotte loss that he was unusually sore, and second-leading scorer Lance Stephenson appeared to be favoring his groin during the game and failed to reach his 14.1 scoring average for the third straight game.
ABOUT HOUSTON (42-19): James Harden has started the month of March about as well as can be expected. He had his first back-to-back games with at least 20 points and 10 assists to start the month and came back with 31 points and six assists against the Magic. George and the Pacers gave him problems in their last meeting, however, holding him to 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting, but it was later learned that Harden played on a bad ankle, which kept him out of the next two games.
1. The Rockets have won their last 10 games when Howard and Terrence Jones each reach double figures in points and rebounds.
2. Houston is 14-0 at home against Eastern Conference teams this season.
3. The Rockets, Pacers and Los Angeles Clippers are the only teams that have not lost three straight this season.
PREDICTION: Rockets 104, Pacers 98
Stats and Records
Houston Off vs
106.3 Points For
91.6 Points Against