Pacers-Hornets Preview

BY foxsports • March 3, 2016

With Kemba Walker leading the way, the Charlotte Hornets have registered a pair of wins over the Indiana Pacers during their recent surge.

The Hornets will try to keep rolling by completing their first season sweep of the Pacers in Friday night's opener to a seven-game homestand.

Charlotte (32-28) has pushed a half-game ahead of Indiana (32-29) for sixth place in the Eastern Conference by winning eight of 10. The Hornets blew out the Pacers 117-95 in their final game before the All-Star break Feb. 10 and edged them 96-95 last Friday with Walker making the go-ahead basket with 2.4 seconds left.

He provided 30 points in a 119-99 rout of Philadelphia on Wednesday, one of Charlotte's two blowouts of lowly teams to open this month. The Hornets topped Phoenix 126-92 on Tuesday.

Walker is averaging a career-high 20.8 points after scoring 23.9 per game in his last nine. He had 25 points in the first meeting with Indiana and scored 22 while dishing out a season-high 10 assists in last weekend's victory.

"(Kemba's) definitely controlling the game and Coach (Steve Clifford) is definitely going through him," guard Jeremy Lin said.

The Hornets have won six of seven at home as Walker has averaged 29.5 points.

They're 20-9 in Charlotte this season and now begin a long homestand a half-game behind fifth-place Atlanta and within striking distance of Miami for the Southeast Division lead. The Hornets don't play on the road again until visiting the Heat on March 17.

"(The homestand) is going to be big. It's going to be some really important games for us," Walker said. "Hopefully, our fans give us a huge push, and we come out and get some big wins."

Indiana is coming off a 104-99 road win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, snapping a three-game slide and remaining 1 1/2 games ahead of the ninth-place teams in the East. Jordan Hill had 19 points - one shy of his season high - to lead seven players in double figures.

Rodney Stuckey had 12 of his 15 in a 3:22 stretch of the fourth quarter in his fourth game since returning from a bruised right foot. The guard, averaging 9.5 points, had a combined 12 on 5-of-16 shooting in his previous three contests.

"I think it's to the point now where my foot is feeling fine, so I'm just going to go out there and play my game and not really necessarily worry about re-aggravating it or anything," Stuckey told the team's official website. "I'm feeling good. Tonight I just saw lanes where I could be aggressive, attack the basket and just shoot the ball when I'm open."

Paul George has averaged 27.0 points in the two games against the Hornets and had 32 in last Friday's defeat. He's averaged 16.3 points in the past three games while shooting 34.8 percent.

Charlotte has not swept a season series from Indiana since entering the league in 1988-89 and is looking to match its longest winning streak in the history of the series, having taken three straight meetings in 2002.

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