Hornets look to extend win streak vs. Pacers

NBA

Finding different ways to win is going to be an important component across the course of the season.

The Hornets will take a four-game winning streak into Friday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers in Charlotte, N.C.

Offense seemed to define some of the recent success for Charlotte. But with the 97-87 victory against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, it was the team’s first triumph while scoring less than 100 points this season.

“Our defense kept us in this game,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “It sustained us. Historically, this would have been a 15-point loss had we not scored our normal output.”

The Hornets have embraced the defensive themes that have helped define the team.

“I keep preaching defense, defense, defense,” forward Miles Bridges said. “That’s what’s winning us games. As long as we stay focused and do what we need to do on the defensive end, I feel like we have a great chance of winning every night.”

So this could be a tough assignment for the Pacers, who’ve struggled on offense. They’ve lost their past two games, failing to record 90 points in either of them.

“We’ve got to compete better, harder, more consistently,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Create better space on the floor.”

In Carlisle’s mind, it’s not so much executing on offense as it’s a matter of showing the proper level of determination.

“I’m not interested in talking about offensive rhythm right now,” he said. “I’m interested in competing hard and letting our offense come more off our defense. That’s how we’re going to have to play.”

At times, the Hornets have turned to a zone defense. It has proven to be the right mixture.

“That has been the case in a couple of games,” Charlotte center Mason Plumlee said. “I think the staff has done a great job of bringing that in to throw teams out of rhythm.”

The Pacers are wrapping up a three-game road trip. Indiana is 2-8 in road games.

Malcolm Brogdon has led Indiana in scoring in four of its last five games, scoring 20 or more points in those four outings.

One topic that keeps coming up for the Pacers is their lack of physical play matching that of their foes.

“Other teams are trying to be more physical,” Brogdon said. “We have to move the ball and keep being aggressive.”

The Pacers need to shake the trend of slow starts.

“If you consistently lose the first quarter, you’re going to lose your share of NBA games,” Carlisle said. “It’s hard to dig out of that hole.”

By winning four straight, the Hornets largely accomplished this with some strong play in second halves of games.

“Just to be able to win games when you’re not hitting shots is important for us,” Plumlee said.

This is Indiana’s second visit to Charlotte. The Hornets won the season opener, 123-122.

Charlotte has gained attention by defeating Golden State and Washington in back-to-back games. Those teams are divisional leaders.

“We have to treat Indiana just like we did the last two games and keep it moving,” Plumlee said.

–Field Level Media

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