Friday, January 18th at 7:00 PM EST at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: IND vs HOU
by Scott Agness | January 16, 2013
The Houston Rockets make their only appearance at the Fieldhouse in two years on Friday during a four-game trip. For the Pacers, the game splits up a stretch of seven games away from Indy.
The Rockets look much different than they did last season, with only four players returning because of an active free agency and a trade that shipped a handful of players away. They signed free agents, most notably Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, and made the sudden deal with Oklahoma City for James Harden just before the regular season opener. Now, they are both the youngest (average age under 24) and the least experienced team in the NBA.
Houston got off to a slow start (4-11), which is to be expected with a new core and so many late changes. Head coach Kevin McHale took a leave of absence for 13 games as he dealt with a family issue. During that time, former IU coach Kelvin Sampson stepped in and the team went 7-6.
They were recently seven games over .500 after winning five in a row, but the Rockets have since lost five in a row. They’re struggled with lapses, or as James Harden put it, "fogs," in the middle of games, and turning the ball over more than 17 times. The Rockets’ up-tempo play has them tied for first in the league in points per game (105), but they’re also giving up the most (103). Their identity capitalizes on their opponents’ mistakes, as they are third in the league in steals with almost nine per contest.
With a new team and greater opportunity, center Omer Asik has been putting up dramatically better numbers than his first two seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, who decided not to match the Rockets’ offseason offer. He’s averaging 10.3 points per game (up nearly seven) and 11.1 rebounds per game (up nearly six) while shooting 54 percent. Asik and Roy Hibbert were two of the more compelling centers that other teams took a look at. Asik left but Hibbert stayed.
James Harden has also thrived in his new environment and is Houston's go-to option. He’s accounting for more than 35 percent of their offense – averaging 26 points and five assists per game.
The Pacers will play their defensive, grind-it-out type of style and pressure the Rockets. They are the only team in the league holding their opponents, on average, under 90 points per game and they’ve only given up more than 100 points at home once this season. Indiana’s 10-game home winning streak will be on the line.
Pacers: Danny Granger (out, left knee), Lance Stephenson (questionable, sore left foot)
Rockets: Royce White (suspended)
“They’re the best offensive team I’ve seen so far this year. Much like we’re leading a lot of defense categories, they’re leading a lot of offensive categories – in the paint, scoring from the 3-point line, free throw attempts, and fast break points. They lead in just about everything so we have to bring our defensive work boots.” – Frank Vogel on Houston
“I’m not sure if it’s his scoring or his passing, quite frankly. He’s got an incredible ability to read the defense and find the open man. That’s the thing that is probably the most underrated part of his game. If you bring too much help, he’ll pick you apart with his passing.” – Frank Vogel on James Harden
“They’re a very good defensive team. They have a couple bigs and a lot of athletic guards so we have to do a good job of moving the basketball and just playing as a team.” – James Harden on the Pacers
- The Pacers won their only meeting with Houston last season.
- The Pacers have won five of their past seven games against the Rockets.
- The Pacers are 15-3 at home and have won 10 in a row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
- Houston is 0-3 in overtime games.
In their last meeting, on April fool’s day, the Pacers edged the Rockets 104-102 in overtime. The Pacers had a poor third quarter and dropped behind by 10 but they made up for it with a strong fourth quarter showing. At the end of regulation, Goran Dragic hit two big free-throws to tie the game and David West’s fade-away jumper from the right elbow at the other end was off the mark.
The Pacers shook off a couple of mistakes and Danny Granger, who finished with a game-high 32 points on 6-of-8 shooting from three, blocked Chandler Parsons 3-point attempt for the win. Roy Hibbert finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Indiana connected on 86 percent of their free-throws and outscored the Rockets 24-to-5 at the line.
All five Houston starters were in double figures, led by 22 from Dragic and 20 from Courtney Lee. The Rockets only turned the ball over nine times.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
Good seats are still available to see your Pacers take on Jeremy Lin, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets. Find Tickets »