Countdown to Tipoff: Nuggets at Pacers 120211
Saturday, Feb. 11 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 7 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (17-9) vs. Nuggets (15-12)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: The first bump in the road, or rather on the road, has come in the form of consecutive losses for the first time this season -- in Atlanta Wednesday and Memphis Friday. Still, for a team that has played 17 of its first 26 away from home, the Pacers are well-positioned, provided they can snap out of the brief funk that has produced three losses in four games. They could be facing exactly the right team at the right time. Not only are the Nuggets slumping with five straight losses, but when last these teams met in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers produced one of the most remarkable quarters in NBA history. They made 20 consecutive shots in the third period, including eight 3-pointers, and racked up 54 points on their way to a 144-113 rout.
They could also use bounce-backs from their two All-Star Weekend selections. In two games since being named to the Rising Stars game, Paul George has gone 3-of-21 from the field including 0-of-7 from the 3-point line while committing six turnovers. In his first game after being named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve, Roy Hibbert had a season-low five points on 1-of-7 shooting in Memphis.
David West had season highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season against the Grizzlies and Danny Granger scored 19 but the Pacers have otherwise struggled for offensive punch. Jeff Foster returned after missing 13 straight games with a sore lower back and produced six points and seven rebounds in 12.7 minutes but will be rested tonight because it is the second night of a back-to-back.
SCOUTING THE NUGGETS: After jumping out to a 15-7 start, the Nuggets have fallen on hard times with five losses in a row as both the offense and defensive have struggled. In the skid, Denver has allowed 104.6 points, .490 shooting and .432 from the 3-point line while scoring just 94.4 points on .442 shooting overall, .265 from the arc. Still, the Nuggets lead the NBA in scoring (103.6) and are second in field goal percentage (.476) and thus represent a major threat to the Pacers, who've dropped three of four. The Nuggets also lead the league in fast break points (21.0) and points in the paint (50.9) and are fourth in points of turnovers (19.0). The Nuggets will try to break their longest losing streak since the 2006-07 season without leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds), who is expected to miss a month with an ankle sprain and chip fracture in his left foot.
KEY MATCHUP: Former Pacers forward Al Harrington has become one of the most explosive sixth men in the game, averaging 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting .490 from the field. Because of his ability to score inside and out, Harrington poses a major matchup challenge, particularly for Indiana's shorthanded second unit.
QUOTE MARKS: "Every team goes through this where you’re going to lose two in a row. We’ve got to respond. It’s that simple." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Foster (lower back) and George Hill (chip fracture, left ankle) is out. For the Nuggets, Arron Afflalo (left ankle/toe sprain), Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain) and Nene (left heel strain) are probable; Timofey Mozgov (left ankle sprain) and Danilo Gallinari (left ankle sprain) are out; Corey Brewer (personal reasons) is doubtful.
TICKETS: Buy now
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Austin Croshere calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play, joined by longtime partner 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.