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  • Not only will Danny Granger not make his long-awaited, much-anticipated debut tonight, the Pacers also will be without starting power forward David West, who will be inactive due to a scratched left eye sustained in the first quarter of Monday’s loss to the Nets. After his second full practice of the week Tuesday, Granger’s left knee responded well but he came down with flu-like symptoms. “He probably wouldn’t be quite ready yet, even if he wasn’t sick,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “Combined with the fact he’s sick, just not the right time.” Granger’s return from left knee tendinosis will thus be pushed beyond the All-Star break.
  • West will miss his first game since signing with the Pacers as a free agent prior to last season. Tyler Hansbrough will get his first start since May 26, 2011, the fifth game of the Pacers’ first-round playoff loss to Chicago. Vogel said after the morning shootaround he would start Jeff Pendergraph if West could not go, but changed his mind. “While I’ve always talked about the need to get Jeff Pendergraph more minutes, Tyler deserves that opportunity, too,” Vogel said. “He’s a starter-level player.” In 30 career starts, Hansbrough has averaged 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and .498 shooting. He has struggled this season with career-low averages of 6.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 15:41 minutes.
  • Pendergraph had season highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Pacers’ 89-84 overtime loss to the Nets on Monday, prompting the discussion of creating a bigger role for the 6-9 forward. “He’s a good basketball player,” Vogel said. “Most teams in this league he’d be playing rotational minutes and we’ve got to continue to look every day to find him minutes.” The plan is for Hansbrough and Pendergraph to divide the minutes fairly evenly tonight.
  • The Bobcats, who beat Boston 94-91 on Monday, are seeking consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 19-21. They’ve gotten a big lift from the return of forward Byron Mullens, who has averaged 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds in five games since returning from an ankle injury that kept him out 19 games. Charlotte Coach Mike Dunlap said fresh legs have helped but Mullens worked extensively on his game “behind the scenes” during the rehab process, using video sessions and walk-throughs with assistant coaches.

– Conrad Brunner

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