Countdown to Tipoff: Nets at Pacers 120216
Thursday, Feb. 16 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 7 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (17-12) vs. Nets (8-22)
By Conrad Brunner
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Slow starts have plagued the Pacers in their five-game losing streak. In three of the games, they've faced deficits of at least 18 points at halftime. That included a 56-38 deficit Wednesday in Cleveland on the way to a 98-87 loss. In the first halves of the last five games, opponents have averaged 58.0 points, .538 shooting and a 13.0-point lead. Injuries are starting to become a factor, though hardly an excuse. Danny Granger missed the Cleveland game with a sprained left ankle and may not play tonight. George Hill has missed nine in a row with a chip fracture in his left ankle. Though he has begun on-court workouts, there is no timetable for his return.
Both of the Pacers' All-Star Weekend representatives have struggled since being selected. Roy Hibbert has averaged 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 40 percent shooting in the last four games. Paul George has averaged 10.2 points and has shot .304 overall, .208 from the 3-point line and .571 from the free-throw line in five games since being named to the Rising Stars game. Lance Stephenson played a career-high 29 minutes in Cleveland and scored nine points, making the first 3-pointer of his career (after 18 misses) in the process. A.J. Price also has come to life off the bench, averaging 12 points on 55 percent shooting in the last three.
SCOUTING THE NETS: A seven-game losing streak has dropped the Nets to 8-22 overall, and they've lost their last nine to the Pacers. New Jersey is coming off a 105-100 loss at home to Memphis Wednesday in which Deron Williams scored 26 with 11 assists and Anthony Morrow scored 17. A team that had been struggling for office reached triple digits as seven players scored in double figures. The Nets shot .514 from the field but committed 20 turnovers, including four down the stretch that allowed the Grizzlies to ice the game.
The Pacers enjoyed a 108-94 blowout in the first meeting on Jan. 2 but the rematch was much more competitive. The Pacers led 97-79 in the fourth quarter but Williams and Morrow combined for all of the points in a 16-1 run that cut the lead to 98-95, but Indiana held on from there. The Nets are without their top two centers, Brook Lopez (foot) and Mehmet Okur (back).
KEY MATCHUP: The Nets have yet to figure out what to do with George, who has shot 16 of 21 overall and 9 of 11 from the 3-point line while piling up 45 points in the Pacers' two victories over New Jersey.
QUOTE MARKS: "We know the things we’re messing up on. It’s not like we have never seen it (before). Coach Frank, it’s not his fault, or the coaching staff’s fault, it’s within us. We just have to take it a step at a time. This season, this is the first time facing adversity and it hurts. It really hurts." - Darren Collison
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Danny Granger (sprained left ankle) and Jeff Foster (lower back) are day-to-day; George Hill (chip fracture, left ankle) is out. For the Nets, Brook Lopez (foot), Mehmet Okur (back), Jordan Farmar (groin) and Shawne Williams (shoulder) are out.
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 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.