Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Preview: Pacers (19-3) vs Bobcats (10-12)

Scott Agness | December 10, 2013

Matchup

Cody Zeller and the Charlotte Bobcats make their lone visit of the season to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night. After playing out West for five games, the Pacers are home for seven of their final nine games in December.

Charlotte’s defense has made giant leaps since last season, and part of that is due to a coaching change. Steve Clifford, an assistant with four different teams over the last decade, replaced Mike Dunlap after just one season. They rank second, behind the Pacers, in opponents points per game (92.4) after being 29th last season (102.7). The Bobcats' interior defense has been stellar at guarding the paint and limiting their opponent to one opportunity. They are fifth in field goal percentage defense.

The Bobcats have held all but four opponents this season under 100 points, including 14 straight, though it should be noted that they’ve played one of the easiest schedules to this point. Only seven of their first 22 games have been against opponents currently with a winning record.

Al Jefferson was a notable addition in the offseason. He is second on the team in scoring to Kemba Walker, averaging 15.1 points per game and pulling down more than nine rebounds per contest. One week ago, they lost starter Michael-Kidd Gilchrist for 4-6 weeks due to a broken left hand.

Cody Zeller – the Indiana native, IU product and the Bobcat’s pick at No. 4 last June – is still getting accustomed to playing the NBA. Often times, that process takes big men longer. Zeller is playing just under 18 minutes a game and averaging 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. As a 7-foot center, his shooting percentage, 38 percent, is very low.

Entering this one, the Pacers will have had two games between days after completing an arduous 10-day schedule where they played five games, four being against the top competition in the NBA.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker

Gerald Henderson

Gerald Henderson

Jeffery Taylor

Jeffery Taylor

Josh McRoberts

Josh McRoberts

Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (day-to-day, strained left calf)
Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo (doubtful, questionable right ankle), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (out, non-displaced fracture of left hand), Brendan Haywood (out, left foot stress fracture)

Quotable

“This is a team that’s definitely improved with the addition of Al being there now. I think that really changed the culture of the team and they’re staring to buy into what it takes and what it means to win basketball games now. I think their whole mindset coming into games is to win and I think would agree that it hasn’t always been like that.” – Paul George

“[They can cause] havoc for us. They got a lot of guys who can put the ball in the basket. [They’re] a very up-tempo team, a very underrated team, so we have a job to be done tomorrow.” – George Hill on the Bobcats

“One of the top guards in this league. Don’t look at his size because he can play with the best of them. I have my hands full but I’m sure my team will be ready.” – George Hill on Kemba Walker

“It’s a mental game for us to keep it going [and] don’t slow down. Me personally, I don’t like to count any team out.” – Roy Hibbert

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won the last four meetings. with Charlotte.
  • Josh McRoberts, who played with the Pacers from 2008-11, is in his second season with Charlotte and has started every game that he’s played this year.
  • Pacers power forward David West is from Garner, NC and attended Garner Magnet high school. Associate head coach Nate McMillan is from Raleigh, NC and attended William G. Enloe High School. He also played collegiately at Chowan University and NC State.

Last Meeting

November 27: C.J. Watson scored a season-high 18 points and hit five 3-pointers in what was a huge fourth quarter for the Pacers in their 99-74 win in Charlotte. They shot 70 percent and outscored the Bobcats by 17 in the final period. The Pacers took the early lead, up 11 after one, and never trailed.

Lance Stephenson finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Paul George also tallied 15. Roy Hibbert closed with 15 and 10, and Luis Scola was solid in his 21 minutes on the floor: eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Al Jefferson scored a team-high 16 for the Bobcats and Kemba Walker, who was just 3-of-17 from the field, had 15. The Pacers defense was suffocating, holding the Bobcats to 31 percent.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)

Ticket Information

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