Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Nets
SCOUTING THE PACERS: For most of the season, the Pacers knew they could rely on their defense to keep them in games when the offense struggled. Lately, however, that bedrock has showed signs of crumbling. The Pacers have allowed four of their last five opponents to score at least 100 points and shoot at least 50 percent from the field, yielding averages of 110.6 points, .498 shooting overall and a staggering .472 from the 3-point line. As a result, Indiana (16-26) has slipped out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference thanks to a six-game losing streak. But the Nets might be just what the doctor ordered, as Indiana has won the last four meetings. Individually, Darren Collison has been surging recently, averaging 16.4 points and 5.8 assists in the last 12 games, while Jeff Foster has been solid off the bench, averaging 9.5 rebounds in 23.8 minutes in the last eight. Indiana will need a bounce-back game from Danny Granger, who was just 6-of-19 in Wednesday's 111-96 loss to Orlando.
SCOUTING THE NETS: New Jersey (14-32) is riding its hottest stretch of the season into Conseco Fieldhouse, coming off a 4-1 homestand. Brook Lopez will be the center of attention for both teams. He has been on a tear, averaging 23.9 points in the Nets' last eight games, and proved unstoppable against the Pacers last season, averaging 24.5 points and 10.3 rebounds. Former Pacers forward Troy Murphy has learned you can't go home again as he reportedly has asked for a trade and was told to stay away from the team until a deal could be made. Murphy has appeared in just 18 games, averaging 16 minutes, 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds and hitting just 4-of-23 (.174) from the 3-point line.
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Tyler Hansbrough will miss the game with pneumonia, while Brandon Rush (sprained right ankle) is expected to miss the next two weeks, Coach Jim O'Brien said after practice Thursday. That likely means even more playing time for rookie Paul George, who recently had moved ahead of Rush in the rotation, with A.J. Price picking up additional minutes at shooting guard. For the Nets, Damion James (broken right foot) is out.
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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.