BUCKS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 15, 2013 · 6:44PM
TV: League Pass
- Finally, some positive injury news for the Bucks: point guard Luke Ridnour, center Zaza Pachulia and guard Gary Neal all will be available for tonight’s game against the Pacers. Ridnour has yet to play this season due to back spasms, while Pachulia (right foot) and Neal (left foot) both missed the Bucks’ last game, a loss in Orlando.
- Ridnour’s return was particularly welcome because rookie Nate Wolters has been the only true point guard on the roster. “Having a guy who’s a veteran and has been through all the wars certainly helps,” said coach Larry Drew. “We’re starting a rookie at the point guard position who has held his own. He’s done a phenomenal job but still you need that veteran point guard that can provide some stability.”
- Pachulia returns to the starting lineup, giving the Bucks their seventh different group of the season: Wolters, O.J. Mayo, Ekpe Udoh, John Henson and Pachulia. Milwaukee already has used 11 players in the starting lineup.
- Milwaukee is without Butler, Carlos Delfino (right foot), Ersan Ilyasova (right ankle), Brandon Knight (right hamstring) and Larry Sanders (right thumb).
- Indiana, on the other hand, has featured the same starting lineup for all but three games: George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert. The only other player to start was C.J. Watson, who filled in while Hill was out with a sore hip.
- Of course, the Bucks also face the prospect of playing without forward Caron Butler for a while. Butler left the Orlando game with a left shoulder injury and traveled to Los Angeles to see a specialist. Drew said he wasn’t sure how much time Butler would miss until “we get the report back” from the specialist.
- Danny Granger’s comeback has been stalled once again. The Pacers hoped the veteran forward would return to practice this week but after a private workout Tuesday that included some three-on-three, Granger reported increased soreness in his strained left calf so he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. “He’s out until we see him in,” coach Frank Vogel said. “It doesn’t really adjust anything for me. We know he’s going to be out for a while with his calf. We hope to get him back as soon as possible but we’re not going to rush it. There’s no need to rush it.” Vogel said he hopes Granger can practice next week.
- Conrad Brunner
GRIZZLIES AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 11, 2013 · 6:41PM
TV: League Pass
- Danny Granger will be back at practice this week, but Indiana coach Frank Vogel said he has no timeline for the veteran forward to make his regular-season debut. Granger has been out since sustaining a left calf strain Oct. 18 in a preseason game against Chicago. The players are off Tuesday but Vogel said he expects Granger to get some two-on-two and/or three-on-three work before rejoining practice Wednesday and Thursday. “It’s going to be a new beginning of a process to get his game legs back under him and his game timing, which is what we were working towards when he got injured,” Vogel said. “I’m not sure what his return date will be … Anybody that’s had a muscle strain knows it doesn’t start grabbing at you till you really push it so we’ll see how he does this week.”
- Whenever Granger is ready to play, he will come off the bench, with Lance Stephenson remaining in the starting lineup. “I’ll probably have a time frame where for ‘x’ number of games he’ll come off the bench and probably get some of the minutes Orlando Johnson and Solomon Hill are getting,” Vogel said, “And we’ll see where it goes from there.”
- With his team playing its fifth game in seven nights, Vogel said the only player whose minutes he plans to restrict is point guard George Hill, who is working his way back from a hip strain. “We’ll manage George because he’s still banged-up and basically playing hurt, fighting through some stuff with his hip,” Vogel said. “Other than that, we’ll probably play a similar rotation.”
- Memphis coach Dave Joerger said he would prefer to play a tight rotation, not because of a problem with depth but because he believes that’s the best way to get the most from his core players. “I think over the course of an 82-game season, I do feel like we have some depth, however I think playing a high number of guys has been counterproductive for us,” he said. “It’s not been a situation where people can get in a rhythm. It’s one of those things that’s got to work itself out a little bit.”
- Joerger said he had no special plans to try and test the Pacers’ legs, given this is their fifth game in seven nights. “They’re playing at such a high level they’d probably play seven in seven if the league would let them,” he said. “They’re playing really well right now, they’re shooting well, they’re defending well, taking care of the basketball pretty well. They’re definitely going in the right direction.”
- After missing the Golden State game with a sprained right knee, Jerryd Bayless is active for the Grizzlies tonight. Joerger gave no indication before the game if Bayless would be able to play.
– Conrad Brunner
RAPTORS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 8, 2013 · 6:13PM
TV: League Pass
- George Hill will return to the starting lineup tonight at point guard for the Pacers. He missed the past three games with a sore hip. Given the time missed, Coach Frank Vogel said he planned to be conservative with Hill’s playing time. “He hasn’t played in a week so we’ll keep an eye on his minutes,” Vogel said. “He probably won’t play starter minutes, but he thinks with his mobility he can help us, and so do I.”
- In Hill’s absence, C.J. Watson started three games and averaged 11.0 points and 5.0 assists. Watson will return to the backup role.
- Danny Granger, out since Oct. 19 with a strained left calf, may return to practice next week, though Vogel said there is no expectation, or timeline, beyond that. Granger is trying to return after missing all but five games last season with a knee condition that required major surgery last April.
- At 5-0, Indiana already is off to the best start in the franchise’s NBA history. A victory tonight would match the fastest start ever. The Pacers started 6-0 in the 1970-71 ABA season.
- Tyler Hansbrough returns to his original NBA home tonight. Though he has said it’s “just another game,” it’s bound to have some special meaning. Hansbrough spent his first four NBA seasons with the Pacers after being drafted No. 13 overall in 2009, averaging 8.9 points and 3.6 rebounds. “I don’t think it’s possible for him to play harder in this game than he does every single night,” Vogel said. “From that standpoint it’ll be another game for him. I’m sure he wants to win a little bit more, but the guy goes 100 million percent every time he’s out there.”
- Hansbrough is averaging 19.7 minutes, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 rebounds off the bench in Toronto. “I love him,” said Coach Dwayne Casey. “He’s not the most talented player in the world but he gives you every ounce of blood he has.” The game also marks the return of D.J. Augustin, who spent last season with the Pacers. Augustin is struggling thus far in Toronto, shooting 4-for-17 including 0-for-7 from the 3-point line.
- Steve Novak will be back in the rotation for the Raptors tonight after being inactive the last four games. Acquired from the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani deal in July, Novak is expected to bolster the Raptors’ 3-point shooting. Casey said neither Austin Daye nor Quincy Acy will play tonight. “That’s going to be a fluid situation,” he said. “Those last couple of spots on the bench are going to be matchup situations.”
- Conrad Brunner
BULLS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 6, 2013 · 6:14PM
- George Hill will miss a third consecutive game with a sore hip, keeping C.J. Watson in the starting lineup against his former Chicago teammates. Hill participated in portions of practice Monday but was ruled out after an individual workout Wednesday. “Better, but not quite ready,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s literally day-to-day. We thought there was a chance he could go tonight. He’s better, not quite there yet, hopefully he plays Friday.”
- Watson started 25 games for the Bulls in 2011-12, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists. He also had extensive practice time against Derrick Rose. So to whose advantage is that experience? “Familiarity will help some but Derrick Rose is a unique athlete,” Vogel said. “Just because you know him doesn’t mean you’ve got all the answers.”
- Rose received clearance from the NBA to use protective tape to help stabilize his sore neck. The tape was originally banned but the league reconsidered. “Anything that makes him more comfortable, I’m in favor of,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
- Though Rose has struggled thus far, averaging 14.3 points, shooting .288 overall and producing more turnovers (17) than assists (13), neither coach believes that’s anything other than a short-term hiccup. “Great players always figure it out,” Thibodeau said. “Some shots aren’t dropping for him, that doesn’t mean they won’t drop tonight or the next game. If he’s not shooting well he’s got to find other ways to help us, which he’ll do. We have great faith in him. We have no doubt that he’ll come around. Some of it is just being out there playing in games.”
- Said Vogel: “I don’t look at it like he’s been struggling. It’s only been three games. We’re always leery. I think he’s capable of going for 40 every time he’s out there.”
- With Danny Granger out at up to two more weeks with a strained left calf, Lance Stephenson will remain in the Indiana starting lineup. As well as he has played (16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, .531 shooting), might Stephenson remain in the lineup when Granger does return? “Who starts and who doesn’t is less important to me than who’s getting the most minutes,” Vogel said, “and the way Lance is playing, Lance is going to earn the bulk of the minutes.”
– Conrad Brunner
CAVS at PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
November 2, 2013 · 6:23PM
TV: LEAGUE PASS
- George Hill will sit out tonight’s game with a sore left hip. The injury occurred during the Pacers’ 95-90 victory in New Orleans Wednesday night. He left the game briefly after feeling some pain but returned and hit a big 3-pointer down the stretch to help complete a comeback. But the soreness increased Thursday and he missed practice Friday. Indiana Coach Frank Vogel said he hopes Hill will be back Tuesday in Detroit.
- Veteran C.J. Watson will start at the point, with Donald Sloan the backup. “George really guards Kyrie (Irving) well so it changes things a little bit,” Vogel said, “but we believe in C.J.’s ability to guard, too. And Donald. Those guys are both tough defenders.”
- One week into his projected three-week absence due to a left calf strain, Danny Granger’s timeline remains unchanged. Vogel said the veteran small forward is able to do light shooting and job through dummy offensive sets but is not yet able to practice.
- Kyrie Irving will be back in the starting lineup after banging his elbow on the floor, causing his arm to go temporarily numb, in the third quarter of the 90-84 loss in Charlotte Friday night. Postgame X-rays were negative.
- The schedule-maker gave Mike Brown a special treat, as the Cavs head coach was able to see one of his son’s first college games. Elijah Brown is a freshman at Butler University, which played an exhibition against DePauw Saturday afternoon at Hinkle Fieldhouse, about a 20-minute trip from downtown Indianapolis. “They won, first of all, and he played well, had 18 or 20 coming off the bench,” Brown said with a broad smile. “I don’t know what they’re doing schematically but it looks like he’s trying to defend, which is a good thing because he never did it in high school. At least he’s trying and he’s in his stance half of the time. To be in Hinkle Fieldhouse to watch my son, that was unbelievable.”
- Andrew Bynum totaled 18:20, eight points and six rebounds in Cleveland’s first two games but will not play tonight in the second game of a back-to-back as the Cavs bring him back methodically from multiple knee problems. Brown said Bynum isn’t necessarily restricted from playing on consecutive nights. “It’s going to be a game-by-game basis,” he said, “but he is not playing tonight.”
- Conrad Brunner
JAZZ AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET
December 19, 2012 · 6:15PM
TV: League Pass
- Finding the right combination off the bench has been a struggle for Indiana Coach Frank Vogel, but the Pacers’ reserves produced 36 points Tuesday in a loss in Milwaukee – their most since mid-November. The Pacers’ bench ranks 25th in scoring (26.1), 27th in field goal percentage (.386) and 30th in 3-point percentage (.286).
- Tyler Hansbrough has come to life since his younger brother Ben has moved into the second unit rotation. In those four games, the elder Hansbrough has averaged 8.0 points on 63 percent shooting, a marked improvement from his previous averages of 5.9 points on 38 percent shooting. Vogel said the surge is likely coincidental, though “there is the running joke that he’ll make the jump shot if his brother passes it to him,” said the coach.
- Eastern Conference Player of the Week Paul George is making a run at Player of the Month for December. In eight games since bottoming out with a scoreless night at Golden State, George has averaged 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.63 steals and 1.13 blocked shots, shooting 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from the 3-point line. “I put a lot of work in it,” George said, “so I would’ve been upset with myself if I continued to play the same way I played last year.”
- It’s a reunion week for the Pacers. After facing former teammates Mike Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels in Milwaukee, they see ex-point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson with the Jazz tonight. Tinsley has salvaged his career by emerging as a reliable veteran in Utah. “He’s been a great pro, a great teammate,” said coach Ty Corbin. “He does all the little things you need to do to be successful in this league.” Tinsley is averaging 19.3 minutes, 2.9 points and 5.1 assists.
– Conrad Brunner