Warriors-Pacers Preview

The Central Division-leading Indiana Pacers continue to roll

thanks to the NBA’s stingiest defense.

While a recent skid hurt the Golden State Warriors’ chances of

winning the Pacific, they’ve since gotten back on track.

The Pacers try for their second five-game winning streak in a

month Tuesday night against a Warriors team hoping to avoid an 11th

loss in 12 visits to Indianapolis.

Indiana (35-21) has allowed 89.4 points per game on 41.3 percent

shooting to rank first in the league in both categories. The Pacers

have been especially stifling during their four-game run, holding

opponents to an average of 80.5 points and a 33.6 percent mark from

the field while winning by an average of 27.0 points.

They dominated Detroit this weekend in a home-and-home sweep.

Indiana blew out the Pistons 114-82 on Friday, then held them to

their fewest points this season one night later in a 90-72 road

victory as Detroit missed 16 of its first 17 shots.

“Our starting unit defends as well as any I have ever been

around,” said coach Frank Vogel, whose team won a season-high five

straight Jan. 30-Feb. 6. “They’ve been doing this all year, and

that’s a big reason for our success.”

Paul George, averaging a league-high 2.4 steals since Jan. 10,

had 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists Saturday.

After missing the first 55 games due to a knee injury, Danny

Granger had two points on 1-of-10 shooting in 19 minutes off the

bench in his season debut.

“He was rusty, but that’s to be expected,” Vogel said. “That’s

why we aren’t throwing him out there for 40 minutes. He’s been a

lot better in practices, but this was his first time at game speed

in a long time.”

It’s unclear how much Vogel plans to use Granger on Tuesday. The

Pacers’ perennial scoring leader in recent years is averaging 23.6

points versus Golden State – his highest mark against any team.

The Warriors (33-23), who sat 2 1/2 games behind the

division-leading Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 4 before losing a

season-worst six straight, have followed up that skid with three

wins in a row.

After beating Phoenix and San Antonio at home, Golden State

kicked off a five-game trip with Sunday’s 100-99 victory over

Minnesota. Jarrett Jack posted team highs of 23 points and eight

assists off the bench and David Lee recorded his league-leading

36th double-double with 22 points and 13 boards.

The Warriors came back from 16 down in the first quarter for

just their fourth road win in 14 games.

“We try to have resolve,” Jack said. “Some resiliency, fight,

but the one thing we respect the most of all, that coach (Mark

Jackson) has been preaching since day one is effort.”

Jack, who had a season-high 30 points and 10 assists Friday

against the Spurs, is averaging 22.5 points over his last six

games.

“It’s new to a lot of people,” Jackson said of Jack, who spent

the 2008-09 season with Indiana. “But that’s who he is for us. He’s

been a sparkplug off the bench for us. He’s been a leader. He’s

been a no-nonsense guy with a tremendous voice.”

The Pacers had won three straight in this series before falling

103-92 at Golden State on Dec. 1. George, who leads Indiana with

17.6 points per game, went scoreless for the only time this season

on 0-of-7 shooting.

The Warriors have dropped 10 of 11 at Indiana, including five

straight while allowing an average of 114.2 points.

Golden State center Andrew Bogut didn’t travel with the team for

the start of this trip due to back spasms.