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Rockets-Pacers Preview

Apr 3, 2010 - 6:24 PM By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Houston (38-37) at Indiana (28-48), 6:00 p.m. EDT

The Houston Rockets won't be heading to the playoffs for the first time in four years, but they're still focused on ending this season in positive fashion.

Matchups with the Indiana Pacers over the past two seasons, though, haven't yielded any victories.

The Rockets will try to snap a three-game slide to the Pacers and become only the second opponent to win at Conseco Fieldhouse in a little more than five weeks Sunday.

Despite a 119-114 victory in Boston on Friday night, Houston (38-37) was eliminated from postseason contention with San Antonio's victory over Orlando later that evening.

The Rockets' win was impressive considering starters Trevor Ariza (flu-like symptoms), Kevin Martin (sprained shoulder), Shane Battier (MCL sprain) were out of the lineup. The team is also missing Jared Jeffries (strained Achilles'), David Andersen (back) and All-Star center Yao Ming (foot surgery).

Those injuries have contributed to Houston losing six of nine, but its attitude may have changed after this latest victory. The Rockets are trying to finish with their fourth straight winning campaign - their longest streak since a run of seven in a row from 1990-91 to 1996-97.

"We finally realized how important it is to win these kind of games and how much good you're going to get for it if we play like this through the end of the season," forward Luis Scola said. "It's great and we've got to keep going. We've got seven more and we have to keep playing the same way."

The Rockets, though, haven't played winning basketball against the Pacers (28-48) since March 5, 2008. They've also lost in three of their last four trips to Conseco.

They'll face a Pacers team that's lost once there since Feb. 26, but that defeat snapped an eight-game home win streak Friday night.

Indiana couldn't build on its 10-point halftime lead against Miami and fell 105-96 in overtime. The Pacers were outscored 16-7 in the extra session with Heat star Dwyane Wade registering eight of his 43 points.

"Very tough loss," forward Troy Murphy said. "We couldn't get it done at the end when it really counted."

While Murphy has averaged 19 points over the past nine home games, Danny Granger has stepped up even more with 31.3 points per game - 7.1 above his season average.

Granger has also helped Indiana average 105.8 points over that span - nearly six points more than its season average.

The Rockets, meanwhile, have yielded an average of 108.4 points on 51 percent shooting over their last eight games. They also allowed Indiana to record its second-highest scoring output this season in a 125-115 home loss Feb. 20. Granger scored 36 points, and T.J. Ford added 23 off the bench in that win.

The Pacers, who have dropped two of three since a season high-tying five-game win streak, are trying to avoid moving a step closer to their first 50-loss season since 1988-89.

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