Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers look for post-break surge
SCOUTING THE PACERS: Indiana (24-30) has been much better after the All-Star break in recent years, posting a 44-43 (.506) record compared to 60-99 (.377) prior to the break the apst three seasons so if that surge is to start, the Pacers will need to snap the first losing streak of Frank Vogel's tenure -- two games -- tonight in Washington. The Pacers won seven of their first eight under Vogel but dropped back-to-back games to the Heat and Pistons heading into the All-Star break as the defense struggled, yielding 225 points..The offense has averaged 107.3 points under Vogel, reaching 100 points in 10 straight games -- the longest such streak since the end of the 2008-09 season. But the defense is allowing 107.8 in the last six. Danny Granger has been more efficient since the coaching change and has averaged 20.0 points on .545 shooting in the last three. Roy Hibbert has also come alive, averaging 17.8 points and 7.9 rebounds under Vogel, while the power forward combo of Josh McRoberts and Tyler Hansbrough -- dubbed "McBrough" -- has produced 20.0 points and 11.1 rebounds. But the backcourt has struggled as Darren Collison has shot 13-of-46 (.283) in the last four and Mike Dunleavy has averaged just 5.7 points in the last six.
SCOUTING THE WIZARDS: Washington (15-39) has been a split-personality team. At home, the Wizards are a solid 14-13, including a 104-90 victory over the Pacers on Dec. 29. On the road, however, they're just 1-26, worst in the NBA. Of course this game is in Verizon Center so the Wizards should be at their best. Their young talent was on full display over the All-Star Weekend as John Wall (15.0 points, 8.9 assists) piled up big numbers in the rookie-sophomore game and JaVale McGee (9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.37 blocks) finished second in the dunk contest. The Wizards' top scorer is smooth wing Nick Young (17.6), while power forward Andray Blatche (15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds) can score inside and out. Veteran forward Rashard Lewis missed the last three games with a sore knee but hopes to return for this game.
QUOTE MARKS: "This is not about this time of year, it’s about the next couple months. I told our guys, our intention is to go into the playoffs like Green Bay went into the NFL playoffs, as one of the hottest teams, and I believe we can do it." -- Vogel
INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Foster (sprained right ankle) is a game-time decision. For the Wizards, Rashard Lewis (sore right knee) and Al Thornton (dislocated right middle finger) are questionable.
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Clark Kellogg calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 6:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Bob "Slick" Leonard, with Kevin Lee reporting.
INTERACT: You can chat with other fans around the country in our live game chat, which begins at tipoff.