Thu, 09 Apr 2020

Without Lamb, Pacers look to start playoff push vs. Hornets

Field Level Media
25 Feb 2020, 08:40 GMT+10

Tuesday's Eastern Conference matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse pitting the visiting Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers features two teams that have endured recent struggles.

The Hornets' three-game winning streak ended on Saturday in a 115-86 blowout loss to Brooklyn, a game in which Charlotteshot just 35.2 percent from the floor.

"The zone really disrupted us, took us out of our little motion (offense)," P.J. Washington told reporters following the loss.

Saturday's game marked the seventh in which Charlotte -- the NBA's lowest-scoring team at 102.6 points per game -- fell short of 90 points.

Even with Charlotte's three straight wins leading into and immediately out of the All-Star break, the Hornets are just 4-14 since a loss on Jan. 6. They endured losing streaks of eight and five games during that time and will try to avoid another losing skid beginning on Tuesday.

That requires a turnaround from Charlotte's past two meetings with Indiana.

The Pacers began the Hornets' eight-game slide on Jan. 6 with a 115-104 decision in Charlotte after routing the Hornets in their last visit to Indianapolis on Dec. 15, 107-85. The Hornets won a 122-120 overtime affair on Nov. 5.

Indiana goes for the season-series win on Tuesday, and it may have to do so once again without Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo, a 2018 and '19 All-Star, returned from a yearlong quadriceps injury on Jan. 29 and slowly integrated back into the lineup. He missed the Pacers' most recent outing -- a 127-81 blowout loss at Toronto -- because of a sore back that began with spasms in a win Feb. 21 at New York.

Oladipo's status for Tuesday is uncertain.

Without or with the two-time All-Star, Indiana seeks to reverse a recent trend -- they've lost seven of the past nine games -- that began before the All-Star break.

The Pacers begin the week two games behind Philadelphia for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, and 3 1/2 behind Miami for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Coming out on the wrong side of such a lopsided game Sunday to the reigning NBA champion Raptors was "a wake-up call," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.

"That team is playing for something big, and they showed us what February, March, April, if you can get into May and June, what it's going to look like, and what you got to play against," he said in his postgame press conference. "They jumped on us, they came with the intensity, they play with a sense of urgency. That team is connected out there. We're back on our heels from the start of this game."

Malcolm Brogdon's individual struggles underscored Indiana's team-wide problems in Toronto. He shot 4 of 15 from the floor, including 0 of 4 from 3-point range, and finished with just nine points.

Sunday marked the sixth time Brogdon -- Indiana's third-leading scorer at 16.3 points per game -- scored in single digits since missing a stretch of 10 games since Dec. 31.

Another of Indiana's top five scorers -- 12.5-point-per-game producer Jeremy Lamb -- sustained a serious knee injury on a fast-break dunk when he collided with a Toronto defender in mid-air. He suffered a torn ACL, torn lateral meniscus and a fractured left knee and is out for the season.

"I'm not upset about it," Lamb told reporters after the game. "He tried to make a play on it, and that happens all the time. He bumped me in the air, and I hung on the rim, so I don't think it was dirty or nothing like that."

--Field Level Media

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