Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Bobcats
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SCOUTING THE PACERS: With two victories over the Bobcats already this season (100-92 on Dec. 10 in Conseco Fieldhouse and 104-101 on Oct. 29 in Charlotte), the Pacers are one win away from clinching the season series -- and the potentially critical first playoff tie-breaker with the team they're currently battling for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers were prolific from the arc in their two wins, hitting 25-of-60 (.417) but have generally relied less on the 3-point shot in going 4-1 under coach Frank Vogel. The first loss came Tuesday night, 117-112, in Miami, in which the Pacers shot 51.2 percent but could not overcome the virtuosity of LeBron James, who scored 41 on 15-of-23 shooting to rally Miami back from a 14-point deficit. Roy Hibbert (20 points, 10 rebounds) had his 15th double-double and Danny Granger made a trio of 3-pointers to push his season total to 102. He is the second player in Pacers history to make at least 100 in five consecutive seasons. The other is Reggie Miller, who did it in 15 straight.
SCOUTING THE BOBCATS: Coming off feisty 94-89 victory over Boston on Monday, the Bobcats (22-29) should be on an emotional high. Eduardo Najera buried a clutch 3-pointer, Gerald Wallace scored 19 points and hit the clinching free throws with 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats overcame top scorer Stephen Jackson's ejection to stun the Celtics. Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 18 points, playing in crunch time ahead of D.J. Augustin and exploiting his height advantage on Rajon Rondo and Nate Robinson. Gerald Henderson scored 15 points filling in for Jackson and Najera's 3-pointer with 1:57 left put Charlotte ahead 89-83. Jackson, who has 13 technical fouls, was ejected late in the second quarter. The Bobcats controlled the boards and had a 50-37 rebounding edge, including 11-5 on the offensive glass. That led to a 21-6 advantage in second-chance points.
QUOTE MARKS: “This team is scrapping and playing their hearts out for that last spot. It’s a competitive conference right now. This is a good basketball team. They have some unique talent. They have a lot of speed. They have guys that can shoot the ball, and they defended well for a majority of the season. They’re playing at a great confidence level right now.” -- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra on the Pacers.
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Brandon Rush (sprained right ankle) is day-to-day. For the Bobcats, DeSagana Diop (ruptured right Achilles tendon) and Tyrus Thomas (torn meniscus, left knee) are 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.