Pacers-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 15, 2012
Paul George has relished his opportunity to play a larger role for the Indiana Pacers as Danny Granger continues to recover from a knee injury. The Detroit Pistons, though, found out what he was capable of last season. After another solid performance, George looks to help guide Indiana to a season-best third consecutive victory Saturday night against Detroit, which has won three straight home meetings in the series. Granger still has yet to play due to patellar tendinitis in his left knee, but George has stepped up his offensive game and is second on the team with 16.5 points per game. Though he's gone through a few rough patches - including going 2 for 11 with four points Nov. 30 in Sacramento before a scoreless effort the following night at Golden State - George has shown flashes of a budding star. He scored a career-high 37 points in a win over New Orleans on Nov. 21 and netted 34 in a victory at Chicago on Dec. 4, which began a six-game stretch of him averaging 25.0 points while shooting 51.4 percent. George, who scored 27 in Wednesday's win over Cleveland, went 5 for 7 from 3-point range and scored 28 points in Friday's 95-85 victory over Philadelphia. "I really want the ball. I really feel right now that I can make plays and create for others,'' George said. "And when we need the shot to go down, I can make them.'' George's stat line wasn't even the most impressive on his own team Friday. George Hill had his first career triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while Roy Hibbert finished with 19 points and 13 boards. "I want to be aggressive. I was taking shots and they were dropping, so I'm happy for that,'' Hibbert said. "But I'm happier with the win.'' Coach Frank Vogel had plenty of praise for George and Hibbert. "(George is) making shots right now. It's just confidence,'' Vogel said. "Roy works harder than anybody and he's staying with it and we're staying with him.'' George, who averaged 7.0 points in his first six games against Detroit, scored 27 points and added 10 rebounds during Indiana's 103-97 win over the Pistons on April 23. The Pacers (12-11) have won 10 of the last 13 matchups, though the three defeats all came on the road in the most recent meetings in Auburn Hills. Struggling Detroit (7-18) will be looking to bounce back after Friday's 107-105 double-overtime loss in Brooklyn on Joe Johnson's jumper as the buzzer sounded. Brandon Knight scored a team-high 22 points and Tayshaun Prince added 12 and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who have dropped three straight and seven of their last nine. "I just feel so bad for our guys," Prince said. "They worked so hard for this. They fought and fought and fought.'' Greg Monroe scored 17 points but missed two free throws with 17 seconds left in the second OT that would have given the Pistons the lead. "We showed great resolve, great fight and we competed extremely hard,'' coach Lawrence Frank said. "There's no one there that's happy with the consolation prize, (but) disappointed that we came up short because we know we got it in both regulation and overtime." Detroit has lost three straight home games since a five-game winning streak at The Palace from Nov. 18-Dec. 3.
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