The Charlotte Hornets continue to show their second-half surge is no fluke, and it doesn't figure to stop anytime soon.
The rising Hornets will be favored to win a fourth straight game when they continue a lengthy homestand Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Charlotte (33-28) has kept climbing the East by compiling a 14-5 record since Jan. 22, the conference's third-best mark behind Toronto and Boston over that span. It's in sole possession of sixth place following Friday's 108-101 victory over Indiana that opened a seven-game stay at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Hornets have won nine of 11 to move within a game of fifth-place Atlanta as they enter a favorable stretch. Four of their final six games on the homestand are against sub-.500 teams, and they've won four straight and seven of eight at Charlotte.
Defense has been the club's calling card during the upswing, though it's also been quite efficient on the offensive end of late. The Hornets are averaging 117.7 points and 43.4 percent shooting from 3-point range during the streak, making 10 or more 3s in all three wins.
"I don't think they just have our number," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said after the Hornets completed a three-game season sweep. "They're playing as one of the best teams in the league right now and they've been too much for us.''
Charlotte has been increasingly tough to handle when Kemba Walker hasn't had to carry the offense. That was the case Friday as Nicolas Batum scored 31 points to complement Walker's 33 and 10 assists.
Walker is averaging 29.6 points during the streak and 24.8 over his last 20 games, and should have a good chance to continue that scoring binge against a Timberwolves team that's allowed 103 or more in 14 straight.
Minnesota (20-43), though, has been better during a 6-7 stretch in which its promising young trio of Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine has continued to progress.
All three were factors in Saturday's 132-118 home win over Brooklyn in which the Timberwolves shot a franchise-best 68.4 percent, the highest by any team since the Los Angeles Clippers hit 69.3 against the Raptors on March 13, 1998. Towns had 28 points on 14-of-18 shooting, Wiggins scored 26 on 10 of 14 and LaVine added 21 while making nine of 12.
Minnesota also did a far better job of protecting the basketball, committing 12 turnovers one night after recording a season-high 26 in a 116-101 loss at Milwaukee. Interim coach Sam Mitchell had benched four starters for much of the second half against Bucks.
''We responded well,'' Wiggins said. ''We knew (Friday) night was not how we play. We all know we're better than that.''
Giveaways were an issue when these teams met in Minneapolis on Nov. 10, with the Hornets scoring 22 points off 22 turnovers in a 104-95 victory. The Timberwolves did limit Walker to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting despite playing without Wiggins and Ricky Rubio.
Charlotte has won four straight in the series and is 9-2 at home against Minnesota since re-joining the NBA in 2004-05.