Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Raptors
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Interim Frank Vogel makes his head coaching debut tonight as the Pacers try to send the Raptors to their longest losing streak in more than eight years. Indiana (17-27) went 121-169 under Jim O'Brien but there was some optimism after a 9-7 start that included road wins against Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers. Any potential progress has disappeared. The Pacers are 8-20 since the beginning of December, and Saturday's 110-89 loss at Chicago - their seventh in eight games - dropped them two games behind Charlotte for the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed. O'Brien was ejected late in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical, and that turned out to be his last act as coach. Indiana replaced him Sunday and handed the reigns to Vogel, who was also O'Brien's assistant in Philadelphia and Boston. Vogel plans to give more playing time to youngsters Paul George and Lance Stephenson while continuing to play Tyler Hansbrough. Indiana has averaged 120.0 points in five straight home victories over the Raptors, averaging an impressive 48.4 points in the paint.
SCOUTING THE RAPTORS: A loss would give the Raptors their first 12-game skid since Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 10, 2003 - the season before they drafted Chris Bosh. Toronto (13-35) hit rock bottom Saturday at Minnesota, shooting a season-worst 33.7 percent in a 103-87 loss to the last-place Timberwolves. Toronto averaged 101.0 points in its first 37 games, but it's put up just 93.7 points per game during the losing streak. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani has played a big role in his team's recent struggles, shooting 35.2 percent over his last eight games. The Raptors certainly need Bargnani to play well to win. They're 12-14 when he scores 18 or more points and 0-16 when he's held to 17 or fewer. Toronto's defense was out of sync when they visited Conseco Fieldhouse on Dec. 6. The Pacers shot 55.3 percent and put seven players in double figures in a 124-100 win.
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Tyler Hansbrough (pneumonia) is day-to-day and Brandon Rush (sprained right ankle) is out. For the Raptors, Leandro Barbosa (strained right hamstring), Reggie Evans (fractured right foot) and Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) are out.
TICKETS: Buy now | All You Can Eat Monday presented by Vienna Beef
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.