Countdown to Tipoff: Magic at Pacers 120204
Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 7 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (16-6) vs. Magic (14-9)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Finally, they can unpack. After opening the season with 15 of 22 games on the road -- punctuating that stretch with a four-game win streak -- the Pacers now have eight of 12 at home the rest of February, including their first consecutive home games of the season tonight and Tuesday against Utah in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana won 10 of those road games, including a 98-87 decision in Dallas Friday in which second-year shooting guard Paul George scored 30 and veteran power forward David West scored a season-high 20 on 9-of-11 shooting. The Pacers held the Mavs to 34 points on 12-of-37 shooting (.324) in the second half.
In establishing career highs twice in the last three games, George has averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.67 steals, 2.3 assists and 1.33 blocked shots while shooting .639 overall and .600 from the 3-point line -- all with just two turnovers. Danny Granger had an off shooting night in Dallas but has averaged 23.3 points in the last six, while Roy Hibbert has averaged 14.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in the last three. An offense that struggled the first month of the season has come alive in the four-game win streak, averaging 104.8 points, 23.5 assists, .476 shooting overall and .456 from the 3-point line.
SCOUTING THE MAGIC: While the rest of the country positively gushes at Indianapolis' handling of the pre-Super Bowl festivities, the Orlando players and coaches aren't quite as thrilled. After beating the Cavs 102-94 Friday night, the Magic had to fly to Cincinnati, spending the night in the Queen City, then jetting to Indy for tonight's game because there were no hotel rooms available locally. It's been an up-and-down season for the Magic, who appear to be heading back in the right direction with two consecutive wins after a four-game losing streak, but nothing comes easily. Orlando is likely to be without starting point guard Jameer Nelson, bothered by concussion-like symptoms, and backup big man Glen "Big Baby" Davis is serving the second of a two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team -- the result of a verbal altercation with Coach Stan Van Gundy after a recent practice.
The first two games between these teams were oddly split. Orlando routed the Pacers in Indianapolis 102-83 on Jan. 24, while Indiana returned the favor in Orlando five days later 106-85. Dwight Howard was relatively quiet in the victory, scoring 14 with nine rebounds. But he was the center of attention in the loss, scoring 24 with 13 rebounds but shooting just 4 of 15 from the free-throw line. Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds in last night's win over the Cavs, while Jason Richardson scored 19, Hedo Turkoglu 18 and Ryan Anderson 17.
KEY MATCHUP: In Orlando's blowout win, Ryan Anderson had 24 points and hit five 3-pointers as the stretch power forward caused big problems for David West (six points, three rebounds). In Indiana's blowout win, West's strength inside was exploited and he had 16 points and seven rebounds while Anderson scored just 11. That matchup is a microcosm of the two styles. Orlando wants to do most of its damage from the perimeter, while the Pacers need to use their power in the post.
QUOTE MARKS: "We started out the season defending at a high level and not really executing well offensively and not really sharing it that well offensively. It’s nice to see us pass the ball the way we’re passing it. This team (Dallas), what they did in the playoffs last year, against the Lakers, and against Miami in particular, the way they moved the basketball I thought exhibited championship level passing. And I’ve used them as a model all year on what championship level passing can do you for you – it can win a championship." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, George Hill (chip fracture, left ankle) and Jeff Foster (lower back) are out. For the Magic, Jameer Nelson (concussion-like symptoms) and Jason Richardson (rest) are day to day.
TICKETS: Buy now
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 6:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by 1070 the fan, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play along with Bobby "Slick" Leonard, with Kevin Lee hosting the pre-game and halftime shows.
INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.