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Pacers Seek To Continue Winning Trend Against Blazers
Posted Dec 8 2006 10:51AM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Indiana Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers wrap up their season series on Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse, but the Pacers may wish they could play them a few more times.
Indiana tries to sweep the season series for the third straight time as it goes for its seventh win in a row over the Trail Blazers.
The Pacers (10-10) defeated Portland 105-97 on Nov. 28 behind a season-high 21 points from reserve Danny Granger. Indiana is one of the worst shooting teams in the league (43.5 percent), but hit 52.1 percent that night while holding the Trail Blazers to a season-low 39.1 percent.
The games have rarely been close during the Pacers' six-game win streak over Portland (7-13), winning by an average of 14.3 points.
Plus, the Blazers own one of the league's worst records and enter this matchup having lost six of seven.
The Pacers beat Portland during their season-high six-game road trip, and returned home Wednesday with a 94-80 win over Orlando. It was the fewest points allowed this season by Indiana, which had given up an average of 108.3 points to its previous four opponents.
Indiana has played a league-high 13 road games, and is in a stretch of playing five of seven games at Conseco Fieldhouse, where it is 5-2.
``We wanted to start this home stretch off on a good note by winning,'' said Stephen Jackson, who scored a season-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting. ``I think the biggest thing was that we came out focused because we needed a win more than they did.''
Jackson began the day at a court hearing in which a judge set a Feb. 12 trial date on charges he fired a gun during a fight outside a strip club.
``I wish I wasn't in court, but I have to deal with what's going on,'' Jackson said. ``It definitely brings everything to your face and makes you more humble about stuff - I appreciate the game of basketball every time I step out there.''
Jackson had scored just 22 points on 6-of-21 shooting (28.6 percent) in his previous three games. He's averaging 18.3 points in his last four games against the Blazers.
Jermaine O'Neal had 11 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double on Wednesday, and scored 20 points against Portland last week.
The Blazers lost to Milwaukee 102-94 in overtime on Wednesday, dropping to 3-7 on the road this season.
Zach Randolph missed a potential game-winning layup at the buzzer in regulation, and Portland made just 3-of-10 shots in overtime.
``When you don't play the game the right way, the game will come back to bite you,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. ``That's exactly what happened. We didn't deserve to win this game.''
Randolph had a team-high 14 rebounds but was held to 20 points, making 7-of-19 from the field. He is averaging 27.8 points and 11.4 boards in his last five games, including a 30-point, 11-rebound effort against the Pacers.
Jarrett Jack scored a career-high 30 points and had 10 assists against the Bucks. His previous career high was 21 points, versus Indiana last week.
Portland opened the season by winning four of six, but has just three wins in its last 14 games.
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