Sunday, April 1 at Houston, 7 p.m.

Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (30-21) vs. Rockets (28-24)

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: The only thing wrong with their performance Saturday in San Antonio was the result. The Spurs played brilliantly throughout a 112-103 win. The Pacers played well, at east offensively, but fell short. The defense has been an issue since the All-Star break. In their last six losses, they have surrendered at least 100 points and opponents have averaged 108.2 on 48 percent shooting overall, 38 percent from the 3-point line. The good news is the offense also has picked up. Danny Granger has averaged 19.6 points on 47 percent shooting in the last eight, particularly important because Indiana is 16-4 when he scores at least 20. Paul George has averaged 15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and shot 54 percent in the last four but has run into early foul trouble a couple of times. His absence for most of the first half in San Antonio contributed mightily to a 22-point second-quarter deficit. The two key figures from the deadline deal with Toronto have been inconsistent. Leandro Barbosa has had a couple of big games but has totaled just 10 points in the last three. George Hill has been an all-or-nothing propositionin eight games since the trade shifted him to the backup point guard role, going scoreless three tims but averaging 14.0 points in the other five.

SCOUTING THE ROCKETS: Despite the loss of their starting backcourt, the Rockets continue to plug away and are once again battling for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. Kyle Lowry is out with a bacterial infection and Kevin Martin has missed the last 10 games with a shoulder injury but Houston went 6-4 thanks to Goran Dragic and Courtney Lee. Dragic has averaged 19.4 points, 8.2 assists and 53 percent shooting in the last five, while Lee has averaged 14.5 points in the last four. Martin is nearing a return, listed as day-to-day, as the Rockets move closer to regaining the services of their leading scorer (17.1). Rookie Chandler Parsons, a second-round pick from Florida, has been a revelation, averaging 14 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the last five. The Rockets won both meetings with the Pacers last season.

KEY MATCHUP: Veteran power forward Luis Scola is an underrated force, a crafty veteran with multiple skills who has given the Pacers fits throughout the years. He has stepped up with the team shorthanded, averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 63 percent shooting in the last five. His battlewith David West inside will be something to watch closely.

QUOTE MARKS: “I think there’s a renewed belief in this team. We believed in ourselves all year and got off to a strong start. We had some minor bumps in the road. I think they understand that our starting five is as good as anyone in the NBA. Our bench is upgraded. I think we believe we can make a lot of noise toward the end of the season." - Pacers oach Frank Vogel

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, none are reported. For the Rockets, Kevin Martin (shoulder) and Marcus Camby (wrist) are day-to-day, while Kyle Lowry (bacterial infection) is out.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brook Olzendam hosting the pregame show starting at 6:30. The radio broadcast will air on WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Austin Croshere.

INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.


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