Countdown to Tipoff: Nuggets at Pacers 120211

17-9 15-12


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.

DARREN COLLISON, POINT GUARD
11.3 PPG | 3.6 RPG | 5.3 APG
Collison had 10 points, six rebounds and just one turnover in nearly 39 minutes (38:50) vs. Orlando. He is 13th in the NBA with an assists-to-turnover ratio of 2.67:1
PAUL GEORGE, SHOOTING GUARD
12.4 PPG | 5.5 RPG | 2.2 APG
While leading the Pacers with a season-high tying five assists, he also had seven rebounds, 13 points, a team-high three steals and two blocked shots in 36 minutes vs. Orlando.
DANNY GRANGER, SMALL FORWARD
18.2 PPG | 4.8 RPG | 2.0 APG
Including a season-best tying 9-9 FT, he led the Pacers with 19 points vs. Orlando. Against the Magic, he added seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in 37+ minutes.
DAVID WEST, POWER FORWARD
11.6 PPG | 6.7 RPG | 2.4 APG
He scored four points with seven rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 29+ minutes vs. Orlando. Against the Magic, he shot 2-7 FG and has averaged 11.5 ppg on 41-89 FG (.461) in the last eight games.
ROY HIBBERT, CENTER
13.7 PPG | 9.7 RPG | 1.8 APG
On 5-11 FG, he scored 10 points, while collecting five rebounds and blocking two shots in 27+ minutes vs. Orlando. He has rejected 2.75 shots per game in the last four.