Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Time Warner Cable Arena

Game Preview: Pacers (46-14) vs Bobcats (27-33)

Scott Agness | March 4, 2014

Matchup

Playing for the fourth time in five days, the Pacers are in Charlotte looking to sweep the season series with the Bobcats (27-33). The Pacers (46-14) scored 99 in both previous outings, winning by 25 and five, respectively.

The Pacers’ magic number to clinch a their fourth-straight playoff berth is one.

Might this be a game where Paul George or another Pacers player goes off? The two 60-point individual performances in the NBA this season have each occurred against the Bobcats, who are seventh in the Eastern Conference. New York’s Carmelo Anthony set a new Madison Square Garden record by scoring 62 back on Jan. 24. On Monday, Miami’s LeBron James raised his career output to 61 in a 14-point victory.

Those performances were a bit surprising due to the fact that under first-year NBA head coach Steve Clifford, who’s worked in the league since 2000, Charlotte’s defense has become one of the better ones in the league. Indiana is atop that list, though it they’ve been slipping recently, while Charlotte is seventh in defensive rating and fourth in points allowed (97.5 per game). That’s a big reason why they’ve already surpassed last year’s win total of 27.

Just so you know: George’s career-high, set this year, is 43 — back on Dec. 2 in a loss at Portland.

Wednesday's game against the Pacers marks the end of a grueling four-game stretch for the Bobcats, where they’ve played the best two teams in either conference: San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Miami and Indiana.

Center Al Jefferson joined the Bobcats in the offseason and is putting up big numbers. He’s the only player in the Eastern Conference averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds; he’s also shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Kemba Walker is the commander of the offense and he can get into the lane quickly.

It’s been a year of learning and growing for rookie Cody Zeller, from Washington, Ind. and the 2011 Indiana Mr. Basketball. He plays behind Carmel’s Josh McRoberts, and puts up 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for both of them, they played back home in front of family and friends just once.

The Pacers look to regroup from a heartbreaking two-point home loss to Golden State last night. This season, they are a league-best 12-1 in games following a loss. Defense is an area the Pacers need to sharpen, as they’ve allowed almost 98 points per game and at least 91 points in all eight games since the All-Star break.

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

Gary

Gary Neal

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Josh McRoberts

Josh McRoberts

Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson

Injury Update

Pacers: George Hill (day-to-day, left shoulder bruise)
Bobcats: Brendan Haywood (out, stress fracture in left foot), Jeffery Taylor (out, ruptured right Achilles), Gerald Henderson (out, right calf strain)

Quotable

“Mentally, we’ve got to be way tougher than we are because it’s time. It’s just time. It’s not just something that you can just a week before the playoffs. … You’ve got to work your way into it. As a group, it’s time. We’ve got a tough 3-game trip coming up, and it’s just time.” – David West

“We just have to be a consistent team playing on the road, as well as home. This will be a huge challenge. We got to go to Charlotte, Dallas, and Houston, who are all playoff teams.” – Paul George

“We’ve just got to improve in all areas of our defense. We’ve got enough shot makers here and enough guys that know how to make plays for one another. We’ve got to do a better job of playing on the defensive end.” – Paul George on a key to the road trip

“I just want to win games. It doesn’t really matter how we win them. Just go out there and win, and finish strong.” – Roy Hibbert

“We’ve really got to get into a playoff mode right now. We’ve got to be mentally tough, approach games one at a time. When we do what we do, we’re really hard to be beat.” – Ian Mahinmi

“We’ve done a great job of protecting our house. We just have to be a consistent team playing on the road, as well as home. This will be a huge challenge. We got to go to Charlotte, Dallas, and Houston, who are all playoff teams.” – Paul George

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers have won 14 of the last 15 meetings with the Bobcats, including five straight.
  • David West spends his offseason in North Carolina.
  • Charlotte (14) has the most wins in the Association by six points or less.
  • Since their last meeting, the Bobcats made a deal at the trade deadline to acquire Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.
  • David West attended high school in Garner, North Carolina and has an offseason home in Raleigh.

Last Meeting

December 13: Pacers guard Lance Stephenson played with extra energy, and it was contagious in the team’s 99-94 victory over the Bobcats. Trailing by six points in the third quarter, the Pacers ended the period on a 16-3 run capped off by shot from beyond the arc by Stephenson. The Bobcats got within one late, but missed their final six shots.

On an off night for Paul George (10 points, 2-of-12 shooting), six other Pacers scored at least eight points, led by Stephenson’s 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. With 18 points and 11 rebounds, Roy Hibbert posted a double-double and David West chipped in 14. Al Jefferson recorded a game-high 21 points for Charlotte.

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/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)

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