The Indiana Pacers continue to perform superbly while short-handed and are now on the verge of their longest home win streak in three seasons.
The Pacers hope to have starting guard George Hill available as they attempt that feat, but if he's not, D.J. Augustin will try to prove a capable replacement again Wednesday night against the woeful Washington Wizards.
Despite the season-long absence of perennial scoring leader Danny Granger, Indiana (18-13) is leading the Central Division after winning eight of 10.
The Pacers also overcame Hill's absence, due to a bruised right thigh, in Monday's game against Memphis. Hill, averaging 15.2 points and a team-best 5.1 assists, suffered the injury in a win over Phoenix on Friday but scored 15 points while playing 33 minutes in a 109-100 loss in Atlanta the next night.
On Monday, the Pacers turned to Augustin, who is averaging only 3.7 points on 28.3 percent shooting in his first season in Indiana. Given his first opportunity to start, he had 17 points and six assists, making four free throws in the final 30 seconds to help seal an 88-83 victory.
"We knew with George out, it would be a challenge," said forward Paul George, who had a team-high 21 points. "But D.J. stepped up and made the game easy. Everybody had to step up and everybody did."
Hill is questionable for this game, but given the next opponent and Augustin's performance, the Pacers may not have to rush him back into action. Washington (4-25) has lost 10 of 11 overall and is 1-13 on the road this season, and has also dropped eight straight matchups with Indiana - two in 2012-13.
The Wizards blew a 14-point lead Tuesday in a 103-94 home loss to Dallas. With a season high-tying 22 points, rookie Bradley Beal was the team's only player to score more than 14.
"We let them back in the game too easily then they came out in the second half and put us away," Beal said. "We weren't aggressive and we didn't put them away. Whenever we play teams, their mentality when they play us and we're down by 10-plus points is to put us away. We have to have that mentality."
Indiana is seeking to earn a sixth straight home win for the first time since an eight-game run in Indianapolis from Feb. 27-March 30, 2010. The Pacers have won nine in a row over the Wizards at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, although they only took command in an 89-85 victory Nov. 10 after a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter.
They also needed a late surge to pull away for a 96-89 win in Washington on Nov. 19 after leading by as many as 20 points.
David West had 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting in that victory after scoring 11 and missing 12 of 16 shots in the home matchup. George had 20 points in Indianapolis but scored just six in the road victory.
Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, has a combined 35 points in the two meetings.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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