The Indiana Pacers will try to avoid matching a dubious record as they look to snap their longest single-season losing streak in just over 18 years Saturday when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

The Pacers (29-35) dropped their 11th straight game with a 112-96 loss to Washington on Wednesday night. Three times the Pacers have lost 12 consecutive games in a season, the most recent coming from Jan. 26-Feb. 23, 1989.

Indiana's 12th consecutive loss that season came against Atlanta, but the Pacers know it doesn't matter who they beat, as long as they win.

"When you lose 11 in a row, a losing streak isn't going to end, you've got to snap it,'' Indiana swingman Mike Dunleavy said. "It's going to take a great effort and a great performance from us.''

The Pacers recent slide now has them in serious competition with New Jersey, Orlando and New York for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Indiana's last win came against Milwaukee on Feb. 21.

Not even a spirited effort from banged-up star Jermaine O'Neal could help the Pacers on Wednesday against the Wizards.

After missing three games with an injured knee, O'Neal had 24 points and seven rebounds, but Washington shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 53 percent in the second half.

"This is probably going to be my last interview about what we need to do,'' O'Neal said. "We need to play defense."

O'Neal, who averages a team-leading 19.8 points and 10.0 rebounds, isn't the only Indiana player dealing with an injury.

Starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley missed Wednesday's game and is day-to-day with a sore left foot and hamstring, as is reserve forward Jeff Foster didn't play against Washington because of back spasms. Reserve Marquis Daniels has missed the last seven games with a sore left knee and is still out.

Despite its recent struggles, Indiana has won both meetings with Atlanta this season.

Atlanta (26-40) lost 109-88 at Boston on Wednesday, snapping its four-game winning streak and losing for the first time in five games since star Joe Johnson has been out with a right calf contusion.

The Hawks could have used Johnson, who averages 25.0 points and remains day-to-day. Atlanta shot 38.1 percent from the field, its lowest in 13 games.

"We played nothing like we did the last four games,'' Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We played young and didn't play like a team pushing to make the playoffs.''

Josh Smith scored 19 points to lead the Hawks on Wednesday. The 6-foot-9 swingman has played well as of late, averaging 24.3 points in his last four games, almost nine points above his 15.4 season average.

Atlanta has lost six straight on the road. Indiana won 91-72 at home on Jan. 9 in the last meeting between the teams.


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