After Paul George seemingly found his groove, the Indiana Pacers hope Monta Ellis is on the same path.
The Pacers aim for a third straight home win Monday night against the Orlando Magic, who are seeking their fourth win in five games.
Both teams dropped their first three contests, but Indiana (3-4) lost for the first time in four games Sunday, falling 101-97 at Cleveland. George again performed well with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting and is averaging 31.3 points and shooting 50.0 percent in his last three games after putting up 16.8 and hitting 33.3 percent in the previous four.
He wasn't necessarily deterred by Sunday's close lose to the prohibitive Eastern Conference favorite, either.
"They've been together for some time now," George told the team's official website. "We're still just forming and still learning each other despite going on a three-game winning streak. This was a tough matchup for us with a team that's well in-sync, so I think this is definitely a positive for us going forward."
Ellis went 10 of 17 and scored 25 points, a positive sign after his Pacers tenure had a rough start with 10.3 points per game on 32.9 percent shooting in the first six contests. His 21.6 career scoring average against Orlando is his fourth-highest against one opponent.
The Magic (3-4) won for the third time in four games with Saturday's 105-97 victory at Philadelphia. Elfrid Payton shot eight of 10 and led seven Orlando players in double figures with 20 points. He was scoreless over 15 minutes in Friday's victory against Toronto and entered Saturday's contest shooting 31.6 percent.
"It was nice to see something finally go in and get a little rhythm out there," Payton said. "It just carried on throughout the game."
The Magic are the only team with four players averaging at least 15.7 points, and more consistency from Payton could give them even more balance. Three of those players are shooting 46.7 percent or better, helping Orlando average 103.4 points compared with 95.7 last season, which ranked 25th in the league.
"We're playing good basketball right now and we're playing with confidence," Evan Fournier, who scored 17 points on seven-of-12 shooting, told the team's official website. "We're trusting each other more and we're used to the new system. It's paying off and that gives us confidence."
Fournier is averaging 21.8 points over the last four games.
Nikola Vucevic sat out his second straight contest because of a bone bruise in his right knee, but is traveling with the team.
"It's getting better and it's not as painful and as sore today," Vucevic said. "It's getting better. (Treatment) is one of the things that I can do to get it better. It's day by day."
For Indiana, coach Frank Vogel is optimistic C.J. Miles will return after missing the last three games with a sore right ankle. Rodney Stuckey's status is uncertain after he sat against the Cavs due to a sprained right ankle suffered in Friday's win against Miami.
The Pacers have won eight of the last nine meetings while holding Orlando to 85.8 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting. George has averaged 21.7 points and shot 51.5 percent from 3-point range in his last seven games against the Magic.