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News » Wizards-Pacers Preview


Wizards-Pacers Preview


Wizards-Pacers Preview
With so many teams to bypass in order to secure a playoff berth, Indiana needs those squads to start fading fast.

The Pacers, though, haven't been doing themselves any favors.

Indiana looks to bolster its flagging playoff hopes at Conseco Fieldhouse on Sunday night when it takes on the lowly Washington Wizards, who have no playoff aspirations but are happy to finally have their star guard back.

The Pacers (30-43) open their three-game homestand trying to bounce back from Saturday's 112-106 loss at Chicago. The defeat prevented Indiana from winning three straight for the first time since Nov. 8-12. The Pacers, 12th in the Eastern Conference, have dropped six of eight and trail the Bulls and Detroit Pistons by 5 1/2 games for the East's final two playoff spots.

Danny Granger continued his solid play by scoring 32 points against Chicago. In six games back since missing 11 with a partially torn tendon in his right foot, the All-Star forward is averaging 24.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Granger had 29 points as the Pacers lost 119-117 at Washington in the teams' last matchup on Feb. 8.

Brandon Rush had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench in that defeat. Since being inserted into the starting lineup three games ago, Rush - scoring 6.9 points per game - is averaging 18.3 on 54.5 percent shooting.

The rookie guard scored a season-high 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting against Chicago.

"My teammates were able to find me, and I was making some shots," Rush said.

With Troy Murphy out the last two games with a sprained ligament in his left knee, Jeff Foster has made the most of his return to the starting lineup, averaging 6.0 points and 17.0 rebounds. Foster had nine points and 11 rebounds in a 118-98 win at Washington on Dec. 15.

The Wizards, an Eastern Conference-worst 17-57, have reason for optimism despite Saturday's 98-96 loss to Detroit. In his first appearance since Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against Cleveland on April 27, 2008, Gilbert Arenas had 15 points and 10 assists. After rehabbing from a third surgery on his left knee in September, Arenas nearly won the game for the slumping Wizards as he rebounded his own missed free throw with 4.5 seconds left, but his 3-point attempt from the corner was blocked. Caron Butler caught the ball off the deflection and missed a jumper as time expired as Washington lost for the 15th time in 19 games.

"I'm going to think about that the whole way to Indiana," said Arenas, who is not expected to play Sunday in order to rest his knee. "I should've called a timeout, or I should've just drove the lane off the rebound, but that's what happened."

Butler also returned Saturday, albeit from a much shorter absence. In his first game since being sidelined seven with a sore left hamstring, Butler had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Butler scored 35 points versus the Pacers, including the game-winning 18-footer at the buzzer, in the Feb. 8 victory.

Antawn Jamison is averaging 30.0 points and 10.5 rebounds against Indiana this season. He had 29 points and 12 rebounds in the Wizards' last visit to Conseco Fieldhouse, a 93-85 loss on Dec. 22, 2007.

Washington, 5-31 away from the Verizon Center, has lost four in a row on the road by an average of 18.2 points.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 29, 2009

 

 
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