(AP) — Perhaps the biggest concern facing the Indiana Pacers during their longest winning stretch of the season is the health of one of their top players.
The visiting Pacers expect center Roy Hibbert to be on the floor as they try for a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Indiana’s leading rebounder at 8.4 per game, Hibbert suffered a deep thigh bruise in the first half of Saturday’s 88-77 win at Detroit. Though the 7-foot-2 Hibbert did not return to the contest, Pacers coach Frank Vogel expects him to be ready Tuesday. If not, Vogel may need another strong effort from his bench.
While starting forwards David West and Paul George combined for 38 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, Tyler Hansbrough had 11 points with six rebounds off the bench and fellow reserve Jeff Pendergraph added two with three boards in just under eight minutes.
That team effort helped Indiana (13-11) to its third straight victory and ninth in 13 games.
“We are trying to put a streak together and win some games,” West told the Pacers’ official website. “We are starting to feel good about what we are doing here.”
Owner of the NBA’s stingiest defense at 90.4 points and 40.9 percent shooting, the Pacers have held Cleveland, Philadelphia and Detroit to 81.0 and 38.4 percent from the field over the last three contests.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching all year long: The defense is going to get us the wins,” said guard George Hill, who had 18 points and seven assists at Detroit.
Indiana held the Pistons scoreless for a six-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.
“We just try to make teams score through us or over us,” said West, who has averaged 22.0 points in the last seven road games.
Indiana has won five of seven on the road since losing six of the first seven away from home. However, the Pacers’ five-game overall winning streak against the Bucks (12-10) and three-game run at Milwaukee ended with a 99-85 loss on Nov. 14. Hansbrough scored a season-high 17 points but West was held to a season-low seven as Indiana shot 37.5 percent.
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis each scored 16 in that meeting, but Milwaukee’s backcourt duo was held to a combined 22 on 7-of-27 shooting (25.9 percent) when its season-high four-game winning streak ended with a 111-85 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
The Bucks shot a season-low 36.1 percent, including 26.2 in the first half while the Clippers made 52.5 percent of their shots.
“We were flat-footed the whole night and gave up 66 points in the paint,” said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles, whose team has shot 40.4 percent despite winning five of nine. “We just generally weren’t very competitive.
“What we’ve had trouble doing lately is making shots.”
Veteran swingman and former Pacer Marquis Daniels has been an exception. Daniels has started the last eight games and is averaging 12.3 points and shooting 48.4 percent over the last six.
The Bucks will be without center Joel Przybilla, who was suspended one game for throwing a ball that hit a referee Saturday.