Pistons at Pacers Game Preview - Feb. 22, 2013
Perennial scoring leader Danny Granger could return during a home-and-home series against the Detroit Pistons that begins Friday night in Indianapolis.
There were rumors that Indiana (33-21) might deal Granger because it has performed well enough to lead the Central Division without him. Pacers president Donnie Walsh, though, told the team's official website before Wednesday's 125-91 rout of New York that his return "solves a lot of stuff that I would say we need."
Granger was expected to make his long-awaited return from a knee injury that's kept him out all season Feb. 13, but an illness delayed that. The seven-year veteran has averaged 21.6 points while leading the Pacers in scoring in each of the past five seasons and is expected to play initially off the bench.
"It's just going to be a matter of his rhythm and timing," coach Frank Vogel said. "We'll manage his minutes accordingly until he's sharp enough and ready to play regular minutes." With a career-best 17.8-point average, Paul George has helped make up for Granger's absence and led the way in a pair of recent blowout victories.
George had 27 points Wednesday and scored 23 in a 101-77 win over Charlotte in the final game before the All-Star break Feb. 13.
George, however, has been held to a combined 25 points on 33.3 percent shooting in the two matchups with Detroit (22-34) this season. The Pacers still won both games to continue their recent dominance over their division rivals.
Indiana is 12-3 in the past 15 matchups and has won nine straight at home, most recently a 98-79 rout Jan. 30. Roy Hibbert led six players in double figures with 18 points in that victory and had 11 rebounds.
The Pacers would appear poised for another win as they're 7-2 in their last nine with both losses coming in overtime. The Pistons, though, are 4-2 in their last six and have won back-to-back road games for the first time this season.
Detroit, however, might not have starting guard Brandon Knight available after he injured his knee and ankle in a 105-99 victory in Charlotte on Wednesday. Knight scored a team-best 21 points before hyperextending his right knee in the third quarter.
He tried to return in the final period but limped off the court.
"You've got to listen to your body sometimes, but as a competitor when your team is in a close game, you always want to play, especially when you have an opportunity to put a team away," Knight said. "As long as we won, I'm happy. That's what I'm most happy about."
If Knight has to sit out, Greg Monroe will try to help make up for his absence by continuing his consistent play against Indiana. The center is averaging 18.3 points and 10.0 rebounds in the last four matchups.
Indiana's David West is averaging a team-best 18.5 points on 60.0 percent shooting in the two meetings this season.
The Pacers visit the Pistons on Saturday night to complete the two-game set.