Winners of their last four games and seven of their past eight, the Pacers (7-4) look to continue their hot streak against one of the Western Conference's toughest foes, the Houston Rockets. After a dominating performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Blue & Gold have a rare two-day break in their schedule before they take on the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday night.
The Rockets (8-3) will arguably be Indiana's toughest opponent to date. This will be the first time this season that the Blue & Gold will take on a team with a winning record.
Despite playing different styles of offense, this matchup features two of the NBA's top-10 scoring offenses. The Rockets are currently ranked fourth in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring 110.9 points per 100 possessions, while Indiana is ranked ninth (108.8 points per 100 possessions). In contrast to the Blue & Gold's balanced scoring approach, the Rockets are led by the impressive backcourt duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The pair is scoring a combined 59.6 points per game (38.2 and 21.4, respectively) to start the season. Their third-highest scorer, Clint Capela, is averaging just 13.4 points per contest.
In addition, Harden is averaging a league-best 15.3 trips to the free throw line per game — 4.1 more than second place, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Should Jeremy Lamb remain sidelined with a sprained left ankle, it will be up to Malcolm Brogdon and Aaron Holiday to play smart defense against the man who plays for contact. Currently, the Pacers are called for the 14th-most fouls per game (22.8).
Should this game turn into an offensive shootout, the Pacers have the edge in stopping it. Indiana has the NBA's eighth-best defensive rating, giving up only 103 points per 100 possessions. They're also 11th in the league in defensive field goal percentage, limiting opponents to just 44 percent shooting from the floor. In comparison, the Rockets are ranked worse in both categories at 18th (108.3 points per 100 possessions) and 14th (45.5 percent), respectively.
The Blue & Gold will certainly look for Domantas Sabonis to feast down low. Houston is allowing the NBA's fourth-most points in the paint per game (51.5). Look for him to have another big scoring night.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Aaron Holiday, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - JaKarr Sampson, C - Domantas Sabonis
Rockets: PG - Russell Westbrook, SG - James Harden, SF - Ben McLemore, PF - P.J. Tucker, C - Tyson Chandler
Pacers: Goga Bitadze - questionable (concussion), Myles Turner - out (right ankle sprain), Jeremy Lamb - out (left ankle sprain), Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery rehab), Edmond Sumner - out (right hand fracture)
Rockets: Clint Capela - out (concussion), Eric Gordon - out (right knee arthroscopy), Gerald Green - out (left cuneiform fracture), Danuel House Jr. - doubtful (sacral contusion), Nenê - out (left adductor strain)
November 11, 2018: James Harden scored 40 points and the Houston Rockets made 20 3-pointers en route to a 115-103 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Toyota Center. Victor Oladipo logged a double-double, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points.
"We knew they were very capable of getting hot, even though they hadn't shot the ball well early this season," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "We knew they were very capable, and tonight they did."
Indiana managed to climb out of several deficits to finally put some pressure on the Rockets in the fourth quarter. The Pacers outscored Houston 17-7 in the early stages of the fourth to narrow the margin to 10, 109-99, with under five minutes left to play. But, they never managed to close the gap down the stretch.
"It's tough," Darren Collison said. "You’re talking about one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, that's what they do. And we weren't able to get enough stops and take away the 3-pointer and do what they do best."
- Indiana is 37-56 in regular season matchups all-time against the Rockets.
- The Pacers have lost their last four games against the Rockets, and will be looking for their first win against the Rockets since Feb. 27, 2017.
- Showing off their balanced play, four Pacers players are averaging more than 15 points per game – Malcolm Brogdon (20.7), Domantas Sabonis (19.8), T.J. Warren (18.5), and Jeremy Lamb (17.0).
- The Blue & Gold currently have the league's second-best shooting percentage, connecting on 47.4 percent of their field goal attempts.
The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fiedhouse to reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)