Pacers roll into Big D
The much-improved Pacers will shoot for a season-high fourth straight win Friday when they visit Big D to take on their former coach, Rick Carlisle, and the reigning NBA champion Mavericks.
Indiana opened a brief two-game road trip by earning a 109-99 win over Kevin Love and the Timberwolves on Thursday. Danny Granger nailed five three- pointers and netted 29 of his season-high 36 points in the second half of that one to lead the Pacers.
"Danny Granger just came back to life and had a stellar night," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said.
Darren Collison filled the stat sheet with 20 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals while Roy Hibbert added 15 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, which won its third straight game. David West finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for Indiana.
"Really excited about this win for our club. (A) road win on the second night of a back-to-back against a club playing at a high level. We were really excited to get out of here with a W," Vogel said.
Backup guard George Hill missed Wednesday's game after suffering an ankle injury against the Nets a day earlier. Hill, the team's highest-scoring bench player, is currently listed as out indefinitely.
The Mavs lost for the first time in four games Thursday when Russell Westbrook finished with 33 points, including six in the final two minutes, as the Thunder escaped American Airlines Center with a 95-86 victory over Dallas.
Jason Terry netted 25 points to lead the shorthanded Mavs, who got 12 points apiece from Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright. Dirk Nowitzki, however, shot just 2-for-15 from the field and posted eight points and eight rebounds in the loss, Dallas' second over the last eight games
"They're playing the best right now," Terry said of the Thunder. "For the time being they are the team to beat."
Nowitzki is averaging just 9.3 points on dismal 28.2 percent shooting in three games since missing four straight contests, an absence designed to rest his sore knee and improve his conditioning
Meanwhile, veteran point guard Jason Kidd (strained right calf), starting center Brendan Haywood (lower back tightness) and the versatile Lamar Odom (stomach virus) all missed the game against the Thunder. Haywood and Odom practice Thursday and should be back tonight but Kidd is expected to remain sidelined.
Carlisle, who coached in Indy from 2003-07, was ejected with 9:34 remaining in the fourth quarter against OKC after receiving his second technical foul for kicking a ball into the stands. The current Mavs mentor was subsequently fined $35,000 by the NBA early Friday morning. Owner Mark Cuban suffered a bigger hit to his pocketbook, getting tagged for $75,000 for criticizing the officiating after the contest.
Carlisle, who has already apologized to his fans and Cuban for his actions, once won 61 games with the Pacers and the franchise hasn't had a winning record since Carlisle went 44-38 with the 2004-05 team, something that looks like it will change this season.
"They've got all the ingredients of championship teams - they've got athleticism, length, skill and size," Carlisle told the Pacers' website. "They're going to be a major factor."
Dallas has won six of its last seven meetings with Indy. The Pacers have lost seven in a row and 11 of 12 trips to Dallas.