Bobcats-Pacers Preview

Indiana earned a victory over perhaps its biggest roadblock to

the NBA Finals its last time out. Before an impending rematch, the

Pacers will try to stay focused with a pair of lesser opponents

coming to town.

First up Friday night are the Charlotte Bobcats, losers of nine

in a row at Indianapolis.

“We’re not going to let up,” Indiana forward David West told the

team’s official website after Tuesday’s 90-84 victory over Miami.

“We’ve got a smart group in here. I honestly don’t feel we’re

playing …. all out. Guys’ minutes are down. We don’t have a

40-minute-a-night guy. I feel our best basketball is ahead of

us.

“We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing. I don’t

think peaking too soon is going to be part of the conversation with

this group.”

Roy Hibbert scored a game-high 24 points against the Heat. The

center has scored in double figures in eight straight games after

doing so in six of the first 14 contests.

“It’s just one game,” Hibbert said. “We’re going to learn from

it. It’s a learning experience. It’s still early in the season. We

have a lot more work to do.”

Indiana (19-3) held Miami to a season-low point total and a

season-worst 4 of 21 from 3-point range. The stingy defensive

effort followed a 3-2 road trip against Western Conference

opponents in which the Pacers allowed 102.0 points per game. They

are giving up an NBA-low 89.3 on the season.

The Pacers shot 50.7 percent to help overcome 21 turnovers,

which tied a season high.

Danny Granger could further upgrade that offense – and provide

Indiana with further motivation to get up for this game – if he

returns. The forward has not played this season due to a strained

left calf but said before Tuesday’s game that he’s eyeing Friday as

a date to be on the court.

The Pacers won 99-74 in Charlotte on Nov. 27, their fourth

straight victory over the Bobcats and 13th in 14 meetings.

Indiana has held Charlotte to 78.8 points in its last four home

victories in the series – winning those by an average of 22.2

points – and is 10-0 at home this season, limiting opponents to

82.0 points and 37.2 percent shooting.

Detroit, loser of three in a row overall and 10 straight at

Indianapolis, visits Monday before the Pacers head to Miami for

next Wednesday’s contest.

The Bobcats (10-12) are right behind the Pacers in defense at

92.4 points allowed per game, but it was offense that continued to

be the problem Wednesday in a 92-83 loss to Orlando that ended a

two-game winning streak. Charlotte is shooting 41.2 percent overall

and 29.2 percent from 3-point range, both worst in the league.

The Bobcats had looked much better in the two consecutive wins,

averaging 110.0 points and shooting above 45 percent in both.

However, they were outrebounded 52-41 by the Magic to lose that

battle for the third straight game.

“I think our team for the most part all year, our effort has

been exceptional. Tonight our readiness from our starters was

poor,” coach Steve Clifford said. “… We got outworked on the

glass … and for whatever reason tonight didn’t put the effort in,

the physicality in, the things that are hard to do night in and

night out. We didn’t want to do it tonight and it cost us.”

Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson went a combined

11 of 42 from the field.