The Atlanta Hawks just wrapped up a nearly flawless eight-game homestand, and their play at Philips Arena suggests they're a serious threat in the Southeast Division.
Their work on the road, however, has been far from perfect.
Losers of eight of 10 away from home, the Hawks will try to extend their overall winning streak to six games Tuesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Indiana Pacers dealt Atlanta its worst loss of the season last month.
The Hawks (20-10) have been fantastic at home this season, going 14-2 while winning by an average of 7.0 points. That's made up for a mediocre 6-8 road record, which includes two wins in their last 10 games.
Atlanta was 13-9 overall on Dec. 13 -- and coming off a road trip where it lost three of four -- when it began a stretch of eight straight at Philips. The Hawks knocked off Central Division-leading Cleveland that night, and the home success didn't stop there.
They won six of their next seven, with the only blemish coming against defending champion Boston on Dec. 17. The Hawks' latest game was also their most lopsided win of the homestand. They outscored Denver 31-20 in the fourth quarter on Monday, turning a close game into a 109-91 rout.
Atlanta hit 20 wins before New Year's Day for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
"It's huge," coach Mike Woodson said. "I've never been part of a schedule that had eight straight home games. It can either help you or hurt you, and in our case it helped."
Joe Johnson has fueled Atlanta's success. The Hawks' leading scorer had his second career triple-double against Oklahoma City last Tuesday, then scored 41 and handed out eight assists Saturday in a 129-117 win over Chicago.
Johnson had 25 in the win over the Nuggets, the same total he had Nov. 18 in Indianapolis. That, however, wasn't nearly enough to keep Atlanta's road losing streak against the Pacers from stretching to five games, as Indiana won 113-96.
The Hawks haven't been close in any of those contests, losing by an average of 19.0 points. Johnson, though, had one of his best games as a pro the last time Atlanta won there. He had 40 points and 13 assists in the Hawks' 117-112 overtime victory on Feb. 24, 2006.
The Pacers (10-20) have lost three in a row and four of five, though each game has been close down the stretch. Their last five have been decided either in overtime or by three or fewer points.
Indiana's three latest losses have been by a total of six points, including a 105-103 setback Sunday at home against New Orleans. Danny Granger scored 34 points for the Pacers -- the eighth time this season he's topped 30 -- but the Hornets' Chris Paul scored 11 points in the game's final 3:36.
"I've always had confidence in my ability to score the ball," said Granger, who improved his average to 24.9 points -- fifth in the league. "But I'd rather score 20 and win."
Granger also had 34 in the November win versus Atlanta, and Rasho Nesterovic scored a season-high 21.
Indiana's last two losses have come without starting point guard T.J. Ford, who's been experiencing back spasms. He's listed as doubtful for Tuesday's game. Jarrett Jack, starting in Ford's place, has scored 7.5 points per game after averaging 25.5 in two spot starts earlier this month.
Ford averaged 24.5 points and 10.5 assists in two games against Indiana last season, his last in Toronto.