Slumping Pacers in need of change

But this night Harden played with extreme emotion and aggression on his way to 28 points in just three quarters which included a series of 3-pointers and a vicious transition dunk. George, who had just two points when the Pacers were blown out in Charlotte on Wednesday, finished with 13 points and was generally a non-factor.

In the second half as the game got out of hand, Dwight Howard bounced around the court yelling "34! 34!" It was a reference to what he wanted the Rockets to win by, to displace the 33-point drubbing the Pacers handed them earlier. Houston didn't quite get there, pushing the lead to as much as 32, but it still ended up as the Pacers' worst loss of the year.

"That's all we talked about, every timeout and ever possession," said Howard, who had 15 points and seven rebounds. "We wanted to get payback."

Teams running up the score against the Pacers is not normal. But over the last 10 games their league-best defense has not been league best.

They are allowing 46 percent shooting and 100 points per game in that span. In the first 40 games of the season when they distanced themselves from the rest of the league, they allowed just 41 percent shooting and just 88 points a game.

"We have to get back to what the Indiana Pacers used to be," George said. "When teams came to play us, they knew it was going to be a long night."

As with everything in the league, check back in a week. The Rockets were walking on air after their two wins over the East powers this week to extend their hot streak. Their tests will continue as they begin the toughest schedule stretch of their season. They host the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and then have road games in Oklahoma City, Chicago and Miami to test just where they are.

After closing their road trip Sunday with a challenging game in Dallas, the Pacers have five consecutive games against teams with losing records as they get a chance to regain their rhythm.

"Every team I've ever been a part of has had a stretch like we're in right now," Vogel said. "Since I've been here, we've always worked our way out of it. And we will. It stinks right now, but we've got a good team and we'll regroup."

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