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- Because Indiana has one of the best defenses and Denver one of the most productive offenses in the NBA, tonight’s game appears to be a clash of wills. It’s not necessarily so. The Pacers, who rank 29th in both scoring (90.7) and field goal percentage (.413), want to run more in order to add pop to an ailing offense. “Teams that run as much as they do don’t always get back well,” said Indiana Coach Frank Vogel, “and, frankly, our team needs transition buckets to succeed.”
- Kosta Koufous returns to the starting lineup tonight for Denver after missing the 108-104 loss to Atlanta Wednesday with the flu. Though JaVale McGee is a much more athletic player prone to the spectacular, Koufous has won Coach George Karl’s confidence with his consistency and work ethic. “He’s never spectacular,” Karl said, “but he’s there every day, constantly working to improve.”
- Indiana’s Paul George has scored at least 20 points in consecutive games for the first time in his career but that mini-surge will be challenged by Denver’s Andre Iguodala, one of the best wing defenders in the league. “This is a big challenge for him,” Vogel said, “and he’s got another big one Sunday with Kevin Durant (when the Pacers play in Oklahoma City).” George totaled 54 points on 21 of 40 shooting in wins over the Bulls and Trail Blazers.
- The Pacers are trying for their first three-game win streak of the season. They’ve won two in a row three times.
- Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, who did not finish the Portland game Wednesday after banging his knee, is healthy and back in the starting lineup.
- While Indiana has won two in a row and six of eight, Denver has dropped four of five.
– Conrad Brunner