(SportsNetwork.com) - Time is running out on the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers, as they put their playoff aspirations on the line Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Hornets are 1 1/2 games behind Miami and Boston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers sit two games off the mark.
Indiana lost both games on a recent trip to Brooklyn and Boston, and suffered a 100-87 loss to the Celtics on Wednesday. George Hill and Rodney Stuckey scored 21 and 16 points, respectively, and C.J. Miles netted 12 points for the Pacers, who failed to contain Celtics forward Evan Turner and shot 42 percent.
Turner recorded a triple-double of 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds to keep the Pacers at bay in the conference race. The Pacers closed within six points in the fourth quarter until the Boston bench came alive.
"We scrapped and clawed and tried our best to make it a game," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, "but they made more shots, they made more plays, they were quicker to the ball throughout the whole game ... and their style of play won out."
Vogel's squad has lost two straight and nine of the last 11 games, and is only 1-4 in the previous five games at home. The Pacers, who lead the NBA with 40.9 bench points, will host Miami on this quick stay and are 19-18 at home.
Vogel is one win shy of 200 in his career.
Hill is averaging 21.9 ppg in his last 11 and has scored at least 20 points in eight of those contests.
Pacers forward Paul George (fractured leg/surgery) is listed as out for Friday and is expected to make his season debut soon. Stuckey is dealing with a balky wrist and is questionable versus Charlotte.
The Hornets went 2-1 on a recent homestand, which culminated with a 102-78 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Marvin Williams led six players in double-digit scoring with 18 points, Kemba Walker scored 17 and Gerald Henderson ended with 14 points for the Hornets, who won for the third time in the past 10 games and kept their postseason hopes on life support.
"We're still fighting," said Hornets guard Mo Williams, who had 13 points and six assists off the bench. "Everybody in this locker room has a goal to get to the playoffs. It showed tonight."
P.J. Hairston scored 12 points and Al Jefferson provided 11 and nine rebounds in the win.
Charlotte is only 1-5 in its last six road games and 14-22 as the guest. It will host Philadelphia on Saturday before an important road matchup with the Heat on Tuesday.
Hornets forward Cody Zeller (shoulder) is doubtful for Friday.
Indiana is 2-1 against Charlotte this season and has prevailed in 16 of the last 19 meetings between the Eastern Conference inhabitants. Indiana has won 11 straight home games over Charlotte, which last won in Indy on Nov. 28, 2008.
The Pacers are 38-10 all-time at home versus Charlotte.