Pacers on a roll heading into game against Hornets
The Indiana Pacers hope their recent impressive form at home carries over to the road when they make a one-day stop in Charlotte, N.C., to face the Hornets on Friday night.
The Pacers are coming off a 3-0 homestand that included a 105-96 victory over the Hornets on Monday night. All-Star Victor Oladipo led the way with 25 points.
That victory was sandwiched by home wins over Orlando and Memphis, giving the Pacers their fifth winning streak of three or more games this season. They had another three-game streak earlier in January and finished the month with a 10-5 record, their best month of the season.
The Pacers arrived in Charlotte a bit short-handed. Coach Nate McMillan did not make the trip for personal reasons.
Assistant Dan Burke will be running the show on Friday night.
"It's an honor to have the opportunity, that they trust me," said Burke, a longtime assistant whose only NBA coaching experience has come in summer league. "Nate's put all his trust in us, so we're going to try to step up for him.
"When your leader's not there, you've still got to step up and execute his way. He's built a culture here and we're going to follow that plan. There shouldn't be much difference."
The plan offensively has been simple: keep feeding Oladipo. He has scored 21 or more points in seven of his last nine games, during which the Pacers have gone 6-3.
The Hornets, meanwhile, got away from a successful plan in the second half of their earlier loss to the Pacers.
After Dwight Howard had dominated the first half with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, he got off only three shots in the second half, during which Charlotte was outscored 53-45.
Howard finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The double-double was his ninth in a row. He added a 10th on Wednesday when the Hornets bounced back from the Indiana defeat to trip Atlanta 123-110, ending a two-game losing streak.
Winning the next game after a loss was nothing new to the Hornets in January. They went 5-1 in the first game after a loss last month, but also just 2-5 immediately after a win.
The good news: Like Indiana, Charlotte (8-6) is coming off its winningest month of the season.
The Hornets will have more than a revenge motivation in their rematch with the Pacers.
The club found out Thursday that Miami's Goran Dragic, not their own Kemba Walker, was selected to replace injured Kevin Love in the All-Star Game.
The possibility of landing that spot seemed to fire up Walker in the win over Atlanta. He exploded for nine 3-pointers and 38 points in the game to bump up his season scoring average to 22.4 points.
Dragic is averaging 17.0.
"The ball was just falling," Walker said after the game, downplaying any motivation that might have arisen from Love's injury. "I got great looks and I was able to just knock them down."
Walker was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and had 23 points in the loss Monday at Indiana.
Updated February 1, 2018