The Indiana Pacers have produced a promising string of defensive efforts to open 2016 and earned a rare road win with their latest.
The Pacers will try to remain stingy Friday night while extending their dominance over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Indiana (20-15) has allowed an average of 90.3 points on 37.8 percent shooting in its last three games with opponents connecting at 19.2 percent from 3-point range. The Pacers held Orlando to a 6-of-31 performance from beyond the arc in a 95-86 victory Wednesday, the halfway point to a four-game trip.
In 10 games since Dec. 19, they're allowing a league-low 25.0 percent on 3-pointers.
"We're focusing on (defense) a little bit more," coach Frank Vogel said. "We're playing big a little bit more so we've got some size out there. We're also continuing to score the ball too so it's coming around."
Indiana had just three players in double figures in its second win in the past nine road games, but Monta Ellis scored nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. George Hill had 16 points after missing a 103-100 overtime loss to Miami on Monday because of food poisoning.
"I thought (Hill) looked good. He knocked down some big (3-pointers). He was 3 for 3 from 3. He knocked down his free throws late and made some big plays off the bounce," Vogel said. "He's obviously a huge part of what we do, and when he's out of the lineup, we're weakened. It was good do see him back out there."
The Pacers seek a third win in four games, which would surpass the total from their final seven contests in 2015, by earning their ninth in a row against the Pelicans (11-23).
Indiana has also won in each of its last four visits to New Orleans.
The Pelicans have dropped back-to-back home games for the first time since an 0-3 start after a 100-91 loss to Dallas on Wednesday. They shot 37.0 percent, including a 7-for-30 mark from 3-point range, against a team that was resting starters Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Zaza Pachulia and Deron Williams.
New Orleans connected at 48.2 percent in a 105-98 win at the Mavericks on Saturday.
"I don't really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don't have answers, but we're going to come up with answers," coach Alvin Gentry said. "It's not fair to the fans. It's not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn't.
"And when I say 'us,' I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It's just not good. I'm really disappointed in the way we approached the game."
The Pacers have won their past three meetings with New Orleans by a combined 42 points while limiting the Pelicans to an average of 86.3 points.
Leading scorer Paul George, averaging 28.8 points in his last four games, scored 56 in two meetings with the Pelicans in 2013-14 after missing last season's series.
Ellis has averaged 27.3 points and shot 53.8 percent in his past three matchups.