Preview: Pacers at Rockets

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[February 27, 2017]  The Indiana Pacers failed to swing a deal that would shake up the roster in front of the trade deadline, and the malaise that overwhelmed the team prior to the All-Star break seems to be continuing. The Pacers will try to avoid an eighth loss in nine games when they visit the surging Houston Rockets on Monday.

The Pacers snapped a six-game slide when they earned a 102-92 win over Memphis coming out of the break but slumped right back down on Saturday when star forward Paul George was ejected in the second quarter and they went on to drop a 113-95 decision at Miami in the first of a five-game road trip. After Paul was ejected we still kind of played good for a second," Indiana point guard Jeff Teague told reporters. "Then we started missing some easy chippies, including myself. I think everybody just started missing some easy ones. We kind of pushed the panic button." The Rockets' chippies tend to come from beyond the arc, and they buried 22 3-pointers on 58 attempts while racing past the Minnesota Timberwolves 142-130. We share the ball, and we found the open man, Rockets forward Ryan Anderson told reporters, according to ESPN.com. "We trust each other on this team. We know that sometimes you want to give up a better shot for an even better shot. We trust the next guy to make the right play or make the shot. I think its going to go in every time I pass it to somebody else. I hope they feel the same way. Its good basketball that way."

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Indiana

ABOUT THE PACERS (30-29): George was one of the biggest names to pop up in trade rumors ahead of Thursday's deadline but ultimately stayed with Indiana and is struggling to find his shooting stroke. The 26-year-old is 6-of-20 from the floor in two games since the break and is shooting 29.7 percent from the floor in the last five contests, perhaps contributing to the frustration that led to his ejection for directing an expletive at an official on Saturday. Its just a soft league, man, George told reporters. Its a soft league. That easily could have been a warning. I felt I got chucked in the neck. I responded. We had our moment and we moved on. Its a soft league, man.

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ABOUT THE ROCKETS (42-18): Houston pulled off a deal before the deadline to bring in sixth man Lou Williams from the Los Angeles Lakers, and he is fitting in quite nicely. The 30-year-old is averaging 22 points off the bench in his first two games with his new team and is a combined 9-of-18 from 3-point range. You know what? Its not very complicated to play here, Williams said, according to ESPN.com. "We have a very open system. We have a lot of guys that have very high basketball IQs, and they just go out there and play. It is a very veteran group of guys, so it hasnt been that difficult for me."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Rockets made at least 20 3-pointers in an NBA record eight games this season.

2. Pacers SG and NBA dunk champion Glenn Robinson III is 7-of-11 from 3-point range over the last four games.

3. Indiana earned a 120-101 home win over the Rockets on Jan. 29 but has not won at Houston since March 27, 2013.

PREDICTION: Rockets 125, Pacers 116

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