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Reply To: NBA • Thursday Service Plays • 12/3/15

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Preview: Indiana At Portland

When: 10:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 3, 2015

Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

The Indiana Pacers are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference and seek their seventh consecutive victory when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Indiana moved within a half-game of the Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers when it posted a 103-91 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Small forward Paul George had another strong outing with 31 points and 10 rebounds against the Clippers and is averaging 35.3 points over the past four games. The next task for George is leading the Pacers to a win in Portland, where the Pacers have lost in each of their last six visits. The Trail Blazers have lost three of their last four games and Tuesday’s 115-112 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks was doubly painful as they led by seven with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation time and lost a fourth-quarter lead for the sixth time this season. “We’ve been in this position too many times not to come away with more wins,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “We’ve got to get better in these situations.”

TV: 10 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, CSN Northwest (Portland)

ABOUT THE PACERS (12-5): Indiana is averaging 112 points and winning by an average of 18.3 points during the streak that is establishing the club as one of the top teams in the NBA. George’s return to stardom has been the biggest factor and he’s scoring 27.4 points per game and has made 56 3-pointers — second in the NBA behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry. George, who missed most of last season due to a horrific broken leg, is 21-of-37 from 3-point range over the last four contests.

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (7-12): The late-game meltdowns are a disturbing trend for a revamped squad with little margin for error. Standout point guard Damian Lillard is the only returning starter from the 50-win clubs of the past two seasons and Portland’s opportunity to compete for a playoff spot is being sabotaged by its own collapses. “That’s a tough pill to swallow,” forward Meyers Leonard said after the Dallas contest. “This is one we have to get. We should have had this win, flat-out. However, we didn’t.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Pacers last won in Portland on Nov. 28, 2007.

2. Leonard had 23 points against Dallas, one shy of his career high.

3. Indiana PG George Hill missed all six of his shots against the Clippers and is 7-of-25 over the past three games.

PREDICTION: Pacers 105, Trail Blazers 100