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Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at New Orleans
SCOUTING THE PACERS: With three wins in a row and a magic number of four to clinch the franchise's first playoff berth since 2006, the Pacers (35-42) enter the final two weeks of the regular season well-positioned. They've won eight of 12 and have a two-game lead (and the tie-breaker) over ninth-place Charlotte. They're three games behind the seventh-place Knicks. This closes out the schedule against Western Conference opposition. Indiana is 9-20 against the West overall, 2-12 on the road. Mike Dunleavy's tip-in at the buzzer gave the Pacers a 94-93 home victory over the Hornets on Dec. 20. The game marks the first regular-season return to New Orleans for former Hornets guard Darren Collison, who has averaged 16.0 points on 22-of-29 (.759) shooting in the last three games.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS: In a three-team battle for the final three playoff spots in the West, the Hornets (43-33) are coming off a 93-81 loss to Memphis Friday night that left them in a tie with the Grizzlies for seventh place, one game behind Portland. New Orleans lost leading scorer David West to a torn knee ligament -- with 22.5 seconds remaining in a March 24 game against Utah -- but trade deadline acquisition Carl Landry has filled in nicely. Landry has averaged 20.8 points on .517 shooting in four starts at power forward since West's injury, but Chris Paul has struggled. In the last two games, Paul has shot 2-of-17 from the field but generated 28 assists. The Hornets also have former Pacers point guard Jarrett Jack and former Indiana University player Patrick Ewing Jr. on the roster.
KEY MATCHUP: The Paul-Collison matchup of former teammates should be fascinating to watch but the one that could swing the outcome is at power forward, where Hansbrough has been struggling to regain his offensive rhythm lately while Landry has stepped right into West's vacated scoring role.
QUOTE MARKS: "This is a really exciting time for this Pacers franchise. Our fans should be very excited. We know we still have a lot of work to do in the next few games to get ourselves into the playoffs." -- Vogel
INJURY REPORT: The Pacers are healthy. For the Hornets, David West (torn anterior cruciate ligament, left knee) is out.
BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 7. It also will air nationally on NBA TV. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Austin Croshere, with Kevin Lee reporting.
INTERACT: You can chat live with fans around the country in our live game blog which begins at tipoff.