Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:00 PM ET at EnergySolutions Arena

Game Preview: Pacers (16-2) at Jazz (4-15)

Scott Agness | December 2, 2013

Matchup

It’s a matchup of teams at opposite ends of the NBA standings. Off to their best start in franchise history, the Pacers are atop the list, while the Jazz reside in last place of the Western Conference. What the Jazz do have going for them, however, is historical success over Indiana in Utah. As the Pacers play their third game of a five-game trip out West, they look to end a six-game losing streak in Salt Lake City.

The Jazz have been struggling, and though the season is just one month old, they appear bound for the NBA lottery. They are in a rebuilding stage, and have the seventh-youngest team in the NBA. To open the season, the Jazz, who are 1-4 vs. Eastern Conference teams, got behind the 8-ball by dropping their first eight games but they have picked up some momentum. They’ve won three of four, including an impressive victory over Houston on Monday.

Utah lacks offensive firepower and averages just over 91 points per game – 28th in the league – while giving up over 100. They are in the bottom tier of most statistical categories. They run a lot of pick-and-roll action and off-the-ball screens. With seven players averaging double-figure numbers, their points are evenly distributed.

Brownsburg, Ind. native Gordon Hayward leads the Jazz in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game. He’s great at moving without the ball, making backdoor cuts and working in an open area of the floor. He dropped a season-high 29 points in their win over Houston. Hayward vs. Paul George is always a fun battle because of their skills, length and the fact that Hayward was drafted one slot above George in 2010.

The Jazz have tabbed Trey Burke, who missed the first 12 games of his rookie campaign due to a broken right index finger, to be their point guard. He was the NCAA’s National Player of the Year last season and led Michigan to the national championship game, where they fell to Louisville. The Jazz picked up Burke on a draft night trade with Minnesota. Utah also acquired Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, plus four draft picks in a three-team trade with Golden State and Denver designed to allow the Warriors cap space to sign Andre Iguodala.

Meanwhile, the Pacers lost for just the second time Monday in an excellent ball game against the Portland Trail Blazers. George lit up the nets with 17 of his career-high 43 points in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough, as the Blazers made 15 straight foul shots in the final period.

Following this one, the Pacers make stops in San Antonio and Oklahoma City on back-to-back nights before returning home to host the Miami Heat. This stretch of games couldn’t be much tougher.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Trey Burke

Trey Burke

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward

Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson

Marvin Williams

Marvin Williams

Derrick Favors

Derrick Favors

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out, strained left calf)
Jazz: Jeremy Evans (game-time decision, stomach flu), Marvin Williams (game-time decision, sore right heel)

Noteworthy

  • The Jazz have won seven of the last 10 games in the series.
  • Jazz assistant coach Mike Sanders played for the Pacers from 1989-92.
  • After the Pacers installed a new massive video board last season, a few other teams have followed suit, including the Jazz. Their new screen is 42 feet long and 24 feet high.

Last Meeting

January 26: Also the third game of a Western Conference road trip, the Pacers fell in overtime to the Utah Jazz, 114-110. Paul George nailed two free throws with 9.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. On the ensuing possession, David West stripped the ball away from Gordon Hayward, who later left the game with a shoulder injury, but the Pacers' lob attempt with less than a second to play didn’t drop.

In extra time, George Hill got the Pacers to within two after a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds and then Paul Millsap’s inbounds pass hit the backboard, which made for a controversial ending. West and George had 24 and 23 points, respectively. With 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, Hill nearly recorded his first triple-double. Jazz center Al Jefferson scored eight of his game-high 25 points in overtime.

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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