Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Magic
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Riding a five-game losing streak that has dropped them out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference at the midway point of the season, the Pacers return home after spending last week out West. A strong defensive team most of the season, the Pacers have showed slippage of late, allowing three of their last four opponents to shoot at least 51 percent. In those four games, the defense has yielded an average of 110.5 points. Turnovers also have been an issue. In the last three games, the Pacers have committed an average of 17.7 turnovers leading to 21.0 points for their opponents. Coach Jim O'Brien has turned to youth, starting Tyler Hansbrough at power forward the last nine games, increasing Paul George's role off the bench and promoting A.J. Price into the backup point guard role.
SCOUTING THE MAGIC: Orlando (29-16) is a much different team than that which beat the Pacers 90-86 on Nov. 20 in Conseco Fieldhouse. In fact, the only two starters remaining are Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson after the Magic acquired Gilbert Arenas from Washington and picked up Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu from Phoenix. Gone are Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. Orlando is 13-6 with the new faces but is coming off a 103-96 loss to Detroit on Monday that prompted Howard to challenge the team's commitment to defense. Richardson has averaged 14.1 points with the Magic, while Turkoglu has produed 11.4 points, 5.8 assists and 5.0 rebounds in his second tour of duty in Orlando. Brandon Bass has stepped in at power forward and is averaging 11.2 points and 5.6 rebounds.
INJURY REPORT: The Pacers are healthy. For the Magic, Malik Allen (sprained left ankle) and Daniel Orton (arthroscopic surgery, left knee) are out.
TICKETS: Buy now | College night
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 6:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Bob "Slick" Leonard, with Kevin Lee reporting.