Among the list of things working against the Indiana Pacers has been a particularly heavy dose of Western Conference opponents.
That won’t change over the next five days for the Pacers, who will try to halt their road struggles Wednesday night when they open a three-game trip versus the West with a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Indiana (8-17) has lost six straight away from home, putting it on the verge of its worst road skid since dropping nine straight from Dec. 1, 2010-Jan. 8, 2011. The Pacers are also 3-9 when leaving the comfort of the East. After their current six-game stretch against the West, 17 of the next 23 games will be played in-conference.
They may also soon get a boost from George Hill, who took part in a full-court scrimmage Tuesday after missing the entire season with a torn quadriceps. While the point guard has been ruled out against Los Angeles, he could be back before Christmas.
“Despite our record, you still have to tip your hat to these guys,” Hill told the team’s official website. “These guys have been battling their butts off. We’ve just played a grueling schedule so far.”
The Clippers (17-7), meanwhile, have won five straight at home and got things rolling again with Monday’s 113-91 home win over Detroit after dropping games in Washington and Milwaukee. Those losses were preceded by a nine-game winning streak.
Chris Paul had 12 turnovers in the losses, and the Wizards and Bucks shot a combined 52.6 percent. The Pistons shot 42.2 percent, and Paul turned it over once while managing 11 points and eight assists in 24 minutes.
“It’s crazy. When you play so many games, you think the team doesn’t play off confidence. But I think we just needed to see again what it was like to defend and see the ball go through the net at the other end — and to win,” Paul said. “I think our spacing was a little better than the last two games, but our defense was better also.
“Hopefully we can start another streak now.”
The final victory on Los Angeles’ recent streak was a 103-96 win at Indiana last Wednesday that snapped a three-game skid in the series.
The Pacers have won the last two meetings at Staples Center and are also coming off Monday’s 110-91 home win over the Lakers, which ended Indiana’s eight-game losing streak.
Rodney Stuckey had 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for his second double-double in as many games.
“I don’t even care about that kind of stuff,” Stuckey said. “It was just important for us to get a win tonight before we go on this West Coast trip. We have some tough games coming up and it was an important win.”
It was a comparatively strong night offensively for Indiana, which shot 48.2 percent after a six-game stretch at 40.0 percent.
“Even though we haven’t been winning, we’ve been trying to play the right way, been trying to come together as a team,” said coach Frank Vogel, whose team led by as much as 39 in the second quarter.
C.J. Watson joined Stuckey in the starting backcourt for a third straight game. The veteran point guard is 11 of 14 in the last two and is averaging 16.0 points as a starter.
Jamal Crawford is 8 of 34 over his last three games, but he’s averaging 21.6 points over his previous five against the Pacers. He scored 18 in last week’s meeting, while opposing reserve C.J. Miles had 30.