Published October 30, 2013
| Sports Network
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers will try to go 2-0 Wednesday night when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans in their season-opener at New Orleans Arena.
The Pacers, the reigning Central Division champs and a favorite to win the NBA title this season, opened Tuesday's tilt with the Orlando Magic, 12-0, and finished with a 97-87 victory.
"We didn't really play a great basketball game but we were able to make enough plays to get out of here with a double-digit victory," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "I thought our defense in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter was really exceptional."
The defense was pretty exceptional early on as well. Roy Hibbert had 12 rebounds in the first quarter alone, which was only five off his career-best. He finished with 16 for the game, to go with eight points and seven blocks. Hibbert tweaked his knee late in the game, but he is fine and expected in the lineup against the Pelicans.
"He's fine. He landed awkwardly, twisted his knee a little bit," Vogel said of his prize center. "Wanted to get checked out and by the time he got checked out the game was in hand. He was available to return. He'll play tomorrow."
The Pacers, one of the league's best defensive teams last season, blocked 18 shots on Tuesday, which was a new franchise home record and one off the overall mark established in 1979.
Paul George, armed with a new max contract extension signed in the offseason, scored 24 points, grabbed six boards and handed out five assists. Lance Stephenson also had a great all-around game with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The Pelicans start the 2013-14 season with new faces, a new name and some new looks in their home building.
After several seasons as the Hornets, which was the franchise name when the team was in Charlotte, New Orleans is now known as the Pelicans. After a summer of renovations to New Orleans Arena, head coach Monty Williams elected to hold practice in the building on Monday.
"We just needed to get some shots up," Williams said. "I ran into that my first year, where we practiced so much at the Alario Center. The guys came to me and said, 'We need to practice at the arena so we can get used to it.' This time, I decided to just beat them to the punch."
The new faces included Jrue Holiday, an All-Star last season for the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded in a package for No. 6 pick Nerlens Noel.
Also coming south to the Big Easy was Tyreke Evans. The 2010 Rookie of the Year was acquired in a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings that cost the Pelicans point guard Greivis Vasquez and starting center Robin Lopez, now a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Evans is expected to come off the bench for Williams behind incumbent starters Holiday, Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu.
The face of the Pelicans is last year's No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis. He's had a monster preseason and the second-year big is expected to have an impact season.
The Pacers have won four straight against the Pelicans and five of the last six. Indiana has taken five of its last eight on the road in this series.