NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 20th (All times Eastern)
Houston Rockets (17-9) at Indiana Pacers (20-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers are in the midst of their first losing streak all season, but will try and get back into the win column Friday night when the Houston Rockets come to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers should get some reinforcements in an effort to end the skid.
Danny Granger, a former All-Star with a career scoring average of 18.1 points per game, is expected to play on Friday. He missed the entire season with a strained left calf and sat all but five games last season thanks to a knee injury.
"I'm still probably going to forget a few plays in the game. I'm still probably going to have some mishaps that's uncharacteristic of me but I'm a lot better than I was a week ago," said Granger, who is expected to come off the bench for the foreseeable future.
The Pacers have dropped back-to-back games for the first time all season, starting with their first home setback Monday against the Detroit Pistons, and culminating with Wednesday's loss to an arch rival, the Miami Heat.
Indiana blew a seven-point lead with 3:20 remaining to fall to Miami, 97-94 in South Beach.
"We knew they were going to make a run," Paul George said. "We just didn't rally."
George finished with 25 points, eight boards and six assists for the Pacers, while David West poured in 23 points in defeat. Lance Stephenson was the only other Indiana player in double digits with 13 points.
It was an off night for Roy Hibbert, the man who dominated the paint both offensively and defensively when the Pacers beat the Heat last week. He picked up his fifth foul early in the third, which helped hold him to six points, and allow the Heat 50 points in the paint.
Things don't get easier for Hibbert on Friday with Dwight Howard coming to town.
"It'll be a tough game against the best center in the league right now," Hibbert said of Howard. "He's going to be a handful. I just have to keep him out of easy points and no easy dunks for him. It's going to be a big test for me."
The Rockets are a formidable test, although, injuries have hit them hard. Jeremy Lin missed the last two with a back injury and James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones, all starters, are far from healthy.
Omer Asik is not healthy either, battling a thigh contusion. The bigger story with Asik has to do with any impending trades, as his name has been the most prominent in rumor mills.
The Rockets set a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to move Asik, and he's not in a Celtics or 76ers jersey, so it appears head coach Kevin McHale may have to work him back when he's healthy.
"I know (Rockets General Manager) Daryl (Morey) was working the phones and talking to people and stuff and sometimes it just doesn't work out," McHale told the team's website. "I think Omer understands that. I'm looking forward to getting Omer healthy, I'm looking forward to getting Jeremy healthy, I'm looking forward to getting our team healthy and getting us together as a group and putting some games under our belt."
Houston has won two of its last three and four of its last six. The Rockets most recent win came Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, 109-94 in Houston.
Howard led five Rockets in double figures with 23. Harden and Parsons chipped in 19 apiece.
The Pacers have taken three straight against Houston and are 5-2 in their last seven against the Rockets in Indianapolis.
12/20 10:21:23 ET