Posts Tagged ‘nba’

BULLS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV:  ESPN

  • 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

MAGIC at PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • With Danny Granger out approximately three weeks with a left calf strain, rookie Solomon Hill and second-year pro Orlando Johnson each will get looks with the second unit. “We’re going to look at both of those guys,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “Still not a ton of minutes there. Still going to play Paul (George) pretty heavy minutes and Lance (Stephenson) will be up there with starter minutes but it’s important to develop both of those guys. Rasual Butler and Chris Copeland are still options at the wing spot but we’re going to go with those two guys.”
  • Granger’s injury, which kept him out of the final three preseason games, cements Stephenson’s place in the starting lineup for at least the short-term. Whenever Granger does come back he will have to regain conditioning and rhythm. The good news is the surgically repaired left knee has not been the problem, and the three-week window may be open a little wider than necessary.  “I think three weeks is hopefully the longer end of what we expect it to be,” Vogel said. “Hopefully he’s back sooner than that. … It’s just a matter of when he can move out there without pain.”
  • Indiana will stick with the same starting lineup of last season, with George Hill at point, Stephenson at shooting guard, George at small forward, David West at power forward and Roy Hibbert at center.
  • Victor Oladipo’s first NBA regular-season game will be in familiar territory, just 75 miles from the Indiana University campus. The Magic’s top pick has played both guard spots, averaging 13.9 points, 4.6 assists and 1.63 steals (and 3.3 turnovers) during the preseason. “I think this is a great challenge for him,” Coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Family’s here, coaches are here, friends are here. Can you give all that energy toward your teammates and toward your team?”
  • Oladipo will come off the bench, with Jameer Nelson at point, Arron Afflalo at shooting guard, Mo Harkless at small forward, Jason Maxiell at small forward and Nik Vucevic at center.
  • Orlando is without forwards Glen Davis (left foot) and Tobias Harris (sprained left ankle), while guard Doron Lamb (sprained right ankle is doubtful).

- Conrad Brunner

NETS AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • The Nets hope to move a step closer to securing the No. 4 seed while keeping alive their slim hopes of overtaking No. 3 Indiana tonight but will do so without a key starter, as Gerald Wallace will miss the game with a lower left leg contusion. Keith Bogans will start in his place.  “It makes our matchups very tough,” Coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We’ve got people going to have to defend bigger people or stronger people than they normally defend and we’re a man short. This is the kind of game Gerald usually would play big minutes because we would keep him on Paul (George) or whoever gets going for them.”
  • Indiana (49-29) can clinch the third seed with a victory, but aren’t giving up on the No. 2 seed. They trail the Knicks (51-27) by two games with a head-to-head matchup looming Sunday in New York. “When you’re on a run, there’s always an opportunity to stumble,” Coach Frank Vogel said. “We just want to continue to put ourselves in position, should they stumble, to capitalize on it. We’ve never lost sight of the 2-seed but tonight the focus is the 3-seed.”
  • Brooklyn’s Deron Williams will be the latest matchup challenge for Indiana’s George Hill. In the last three games, opposing point guards Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City), John Wall (Washington) and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) racked up 90 points on 52 percent shooting against the Pacers, but Vogel said that doesn’t reflect directly on Hill. “When a point guard goes off, it has more to do with our bigs and our team scheme than what we’re doing on the ball,” Vogel said. “It’s never felt to me like, ‘Wow, George is being exposed. I’ll take George over most any point guard in the NBA to defend’.” Williams has averaged 23.2 points and 8.2 assists in the last 18 games.
  • The Nets are 2-0 in the season series in large part because of Indiana’s inability to close games. The Pacers led 75-69 in the first meeting Jan. 13 but were outscored 28-11 in the fourth quarter. In the rematch on Feb. 11, Indiana led 76-72 with 1:38 left in regulation but the Nets forced overtime and then pulled away, 89-84. “The issue we had in those two games were offense-related, more than anything,” Vogel said. “We’ve got to make sure we execute on the offensive end, move the basketball. We’ve been a little bit sluggish on the offensive end the last few games so it’s been a point of emphasis and hopefully we finish strong tonight.”
  • All-Star Paul George has slumped late in the season, averaging 8.0 points on 7-for-31 shooting (.226) in the last three. In the last 10, he has gone 14-for-60 (.233) from the 3-point line. “He had one bad shooting game and when he did that he felt like he had to make up for it and he started forcing and that compounded the issue,” Vogel said. “He’s just got to let the offense come to him.”
  • Ian Mahinmi (ill) and Hill (sore hip/groin) both missed practice Thursday but will play tonight for Indiana.

– Conrad Brunner

JAZZ AT PACERS, 7 P.M. ET

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

CAVALIERS at PACERS, 7 p.m. ET

TV: League Pass

  • In an effort to solve his ongoing second-unit problem, Indiana Coach Frank Vogel has opted to double his dosage of Hansbroughs. Ben Hansbrough, the younger brother of Tyler Hansbrough, will replace D.J. Augustin as the backup point guard starting with tonight’s game. “We’ll see what it does for the second unit,” Vogel said. “Maybe a different guy or style of play can change things.” The younger Hansbrough, an undrafted rookie, was the Big East Player of the Year at Notre Dame in 2010-11 and spent last season playing professionally in Europe.
  • One of the team’s touted offseason free-agent pickups, Augustin has been stunningly inept, averaging 13.0 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.3 assists, shooting .266 overall and .213 from the 3-point line. He has career averages of 10.3 points, 4.3 assists, .402 shooting overall and .366 from the arc. His demotion could be short-term but in the meantime Augustin needs to remain engaged while working to find his game. “It’s always a concern how a player is going to handle it when he’s taken out of the rotation,” Vogel said. “He’s got to stay bought-in, he’s got to stay sharp and he’s got to stay confident.”
  • With Kyrie Irving’s return, the Cavs are closing in on having their full complement of players. Irving missed 11 games with a broken left index finger, but came back Tuesday and scored 28 points with 11 assists as Cleveland beat the Lakers 100-94 to snap a four-game losing streak. Cavs Coach Byron Scott said there will be no need to ease Irving back into the flow. “His easing back was last night when I threw him in there,” Scott said. “Once the doctor says you’re OK and you’ve practiced, you’re ready to go.”
  • The Cavs are awaiting those developments for rookie guard Dion Waiters, who will miss his sixth straight game with a left ankle sprain.  Cleveland also will be without reserve guard Omri Casspi (5.2 points, .442 from the 3-point line), who remained at the team hotel with a stomach ailment. Daniel Gibson, listed as a game-time decision with a hyperextended right elbow, said he will play.

– Conrad Brunner

NUGGETS at PACERS, 7 p.m. ET

TV: League Pass

  • 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

SUNS AT CAVALIERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao leads the NBA in rebounding with a 14.7 average and is working on a streak of five straight double-doubles. The mop-topped Brazilian is averaging 13.6 points and 17.6 rebounds during that span. “The way Anderson is rebounding the ball right now, the only comparison you can make is to (NBA all-time great) Dennis Rodman,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “So many players assume every shot is going to be made, but he plays every shot like it’s going to be missed. That’s really why he’s such a great rebounder.”
  • Phoenix rallied from a 26-point deficit to beat Cleveland 107-105 at US Airways Center on Nov. 9. It was the third-largest comeback in Suns history, as well as the biggest blown lead by the Cavaliers since 1980 (when the NBA began tracking the statistic). “We definitely don’t want to be in a hole like that again, but it did allow us to show everyone what kind of a winning attitude we have,” Phoenix shooting guard Shannon Brown said.
  • The Suns’ lineup consists of Brown, point guard Goran Dragic, small forward Michael Beasley, power forward Markieff Morris, and center Marcin Gortat. Phoenix is 0-1 on its current six-game, 10-day road trip — its longest of the 2012-2013 season — and has a 1-5 overall record in away games.
  • Cleveland will start Varejao, power forward Tristan Thompson, small forward Alonzo Gee, shooting guard Dion Waiters, and point guard Jeremy Pargo. The Cavaliers have lost three straight games, all on the road, but are 2-2 at Quicken Loans Arena this season.
  • Inactive for the Suns are center Channing Frye (enlarged heart) and point guard Diante Garrett. Not in uniform for Cleveland are point guard Kyrie Irving (left index finger fracture) and power forward Luke Harangody (right knee surgery).
  • Reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Irving is not expected to return to action until mid-December, but he did work out and attempt many shots on the arena’s main court before the game. His broken finger remains in a splint and was heavily wrapped in blue tape.

– Brian Dulik

WIZARDS AT CAVALIERS, 7 P.M. ET

TV: League Pass

  • The Wizards will start No. 3 overall draft pick Bradley Beal at shooting guard, while the Cavaliers have named No. 4 overall selection Dion Waiters their starter at the same spot. “They are two kids with obviously bright futures in this league,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “They will be successful for a long time.” Florida product Beal averaged 11.3 points and 2.5 assists in the preseason, while former Syracuse sixth man Waiters averaged 8.6 points and 2.1 helpers.
  • Center Emeka Okafor, power forward Trevor Booker, small forward Trevor Ariza, and point guard A.J. Price round out the Wizards’ starting lineup. “I like how this group developed from a defensive standpoint, which is why we’re going with them,” Wittman said. “Plus, by using JC (shooting guard Jordan Crawford) and Martell (Webster, small forward) off the bench, it gives us a big kick there.”
  • Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving — the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year — said he was very eager for the regular season to begin for two reasons. “We’re young, so we’re going to learn together, and the playoffs are our ultimate goal,” he said, breaking into a smile. “I’m also excited not to be called ‘Rookie’ anymore. That’s not my first name.”
  • The remainder of the Cavaliers’ starting lineup consists of center Anderson Varejao, power forward Tristan Thompson, and small forward Alonzo Gee. Swingman C.J. Miles, small forward Omri Casspi, shooting guard Daniel Gibson, and center Tyler Zeller are expected to round out their rotation.
  • Washington’s inactives are point guard John Wall (left patella stress injury), power forward Nene (left plantar fasciitis), and power forward Kevin Seraphin (right calf strain). Wall is expected to be out until late November, but no timetable has been established for Nene or Seraphin to return.
  • Point guard Jeremy Pargo and power forward Luke Harangody are Cleveland’s inactives, both as healthy scratches. Wizards point guard Jannero Pargo, who is in uniform, is Jeremy’s older brother. Jannero is 33, while Jeremy is 26.
  • The game officially tips off the 2012-2013 NBA season, beginning one hour before Miami hosts Boston. The lone other contest on the evening has Dallas playing at the Lakers.

– Brian Dulik