• Danny Granger took a major step in his comeback by participating in a 20-minute halfcourt scrimmage during practice Thursday, his first full-contact work since the preseason. Coach Frank Vogel said Granger looked good during the scrimmage and reported no soreness in the injured left knee the day after. Vogel said he hopes Granger can “get his feet wet” in a few games before the All-Star break but that it will take time for him to get fully acclimated. “Rhythm and conditioning are going to be an issue,” he said. “He’s going to be in good shape, but not game shape and that’s going to take time.”
  • Roy Hibbert is showing signs of emerging from his season-long offensive slump. In the last eight games he has averaged 12.5 points and shot 47.6 percent, a marked improvement over his previous norms of 9.4 points and 40.3 percent.
  • Lance Stephenson also is on the upswing, totaling 32 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists while hitting 13 of 23 shots (.565) in the past two games. In the previous seven he had gone scoreless twice and averaged 4.6 points on 36 percent shooting.
  • Indiana carries a 12-game home winning streak into the game, the team’s longest since 14 in a row during the 2002-03 season. The Pacers were 23-10 at home last season but are currently 17-3. “We had a pretty good home record last year but it wasn’t dominant,” Vogel said, “and we want to be dominant.”
  • Vogel will re-introduce the recently re-signed Sam Young to the rotation tonight for first-half minutes behind Paul George. Rookie Orlando Johnson will back up Stephenson.
  • Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra will continue his second unit tweak of employing veteran forwards Rashard Lewis and Chris Andersen. Lewis has averaged 5.3 points in 24 appearances, while Anderson, on his second 10-day contract with the Heat, has totaled 13 minutes in two games. Spoelstra said he likes the versatility they bring off the bench and has been particularly impressed by Andersen’s rebounding and energy.
  • Despite a mediocre road record (11-10), Miami is coming off an impressive 20-point blowout of Brooklyn Wednesday as LeBron James extended His recent surge. James has averaged 30.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the last five games.

- Conrad Brunner

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