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- The Pacers will start forward Tyler Hansbrough on Bulls forward Carlos Boozer, with center Roy Hibbert on center Kurt Thomas. “We’ll let the ACC battle it out there, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels,” O’Brien said of Boozer and Hansbrough, who played collegiately and Duke and North Carolina, respectively. O’Brien said center Jeff Foster also will guard Boozer.
- Hibbert has struggled in recent games after a fast start. Though he has remained in the starting lineup, his minutes have been reduced as the Pacers have trended toward a smaller lineup. He hasn’t scored in double figures in three games and has just one game over 10 rebounds in the last five. Still, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Hibbert remains an improving young player. “Players go through ups and downs,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a vastly improved player and when you look at his overall development, it’s significant.”
- The Pacers have won two consecutive games, including a 102-89 victory over Dallas Wednesday, and in recent games, rookie Paul George has shown signs of becoming a regular contributor. He scored a career-high 16 points against Dallas, including critical 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. “He’s a very confident player,” Thibodeau said.
- O’Brien said guard Lance Stephenson has developed enough in the first half of the season that he would be confident if he needed to play this season. The rookie from Cincinnati has yet to play in a regular season game, but O’Brien said he expected Stephenson to be a “very, very” big part of the team’s future.
– John Oehser