A strong second half helped the Washington Wizards cruise past the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in the nation's capital. They shouldn't expect Friday afternoon's rematch to be quite as easy.
The Wizards, losers in each of their first 15 road games and a franchise-record 16 straight dating to last season, try to finally end the drought in the conclusion of this back-to-back set at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Washington (8-22) has been extremely competitive at the Verizon Center, where it's 8-7 and has lost just once by double digits.
The Wizards hosted the Pacers (13-17) on Wednesday without coach Flip Saunders, who left the team to be with his ailing mother, but they played one of their better second halves of the season in his absence.
Washington outscored Indiana 60-46 to break open a game that was tied at halftime, putting six players in double figures in a 104-90 victory.
A 32-point fourth quarter -- highlighted by 10 from Andray Blatche -- was particularly impressive. The Wizards had averaged a league-worst 19.0 points in the final 12 minutes of their previous seven games.
"I'm so proud of this team tonight," said Blatche, who finished with 22. "We finally were able to lock down in the fourth quarter and stayed focus on shutting them down."
Saunders' status for Friday's rematch is uncertain -- assistant Randy Wittman coached the team in his place -- and it's also unclear if guard Kirk Hinrich will be available after leaving Wednesday's game with a bruised left thigh. Hinrich averaged 16.8 points and 7.8 assists in his previous five games before the injury.
The Wizards figure to need all the help they can get at Indiana. No team has started a season 0-16 on the road since the 2001-02 Chicago Bulls lost their first 18 away from home.
"It's going to be a tough game on Friday against Indiana," said center JaVale McGee, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in just 22 minutes Wednesday. "They know exactly what they did wrong (Wednesday) and will be able to correct it. They also know what worked well for us, and will be coming up with ways to stop us so we are going to have to come up with a new game plan so we can grab a win."
McGee thoroughly outplayed Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who had five points and five fouls in 15 minutes.
"The way I've been playing, I should be in the damn D-League," Hibbert, who's averaging 7.3 points and shooting 27.5 percent in his last four games, told NBA.com.
Aside from a better effort from Hibbert, Indiana could use more offense from Danny Granger. The team's leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, Granger shot 7 of 18 on Wednesday and was held to 15 points for a second straight game.
Indiana is 13-7 when Granger scores 18 points or more and 0-9 when he's been healthy and scored 17 or fewer.
The Wizards would like to see improved shooting from Rashard Lewis, who has made 40.0 percent of his shots since arriving earlier this month from Orlando.
Perhaps playing in Indiana will conjure up some good memories. Lewis scored 21 points in a Magic win at Conseco Fieldhouse on Nov. 20 -- all in a stretch of 12:23 bridging the second and third quarters.