Indiana Pacers: 10 Things

In snowy Indianapolis for the first of three straight Eastern time zone games, the Lakers practiced Monday evening after landing and conducted shootaround Tuesday morning at the regular time.

While we’re here, check out this list of 10 things about the 6-10 Pacers that you may or may not need to know heading into the 4 p.m. Pacific tipoff.

1) Indiana’s best player is undoubtedly small forward Danny Granger, a fourth-year pro who’s sixth in the NBA in scoring at 24.2 points per game. Guess who he trails? Kobe Bryant (24.4). Granger likes to shoot the three, having attempted 105 (making 39 to shoot 37 percent) in 15 games, a healthy seven per game. In fact, 35 percent of the shots Granger takes are from three-point distance.

2) The Pacers do not have a legitimate low-post scoring threat, as they start Rasho Nesterovic at center and Troy Murphy at power forward. Murphy’s game is entirely perimeter oriented, and Nesterovic is a good passing and shooting center that doesn’t possess a great back-to-the-basket game.

3) It’s currently 30 degrees in Indianapolis, partly cloudy, and feels like 18 degrees, according to weather.com and my ears and hands. Just sayin’.

4) There’s some mystery surrounding Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s ailing right knee, which has kept him out of all 16 Pacers games. He’s already missed more games this season than he had in his combined six-year career, and had started 125 consecutive games for Indiana heading into this season, particularly damaging as he had doubled his career scoring average by going for 19.1 points and being one of four NBA players to be in the league’s top 50 in all three shooting categories (FG%, FT%, 3pt%).

5) As Indiana also plays on Wednesday, it will be the Pacers’ sixth set of back-to-back games, which head coach Jim O’Brien suspected was at the top of the league. As for the Lakers, Wednesday’s game in Philly will be the fourth back-to-back.

6) Point guard T.J. Ford, who came over from Toronto along with Nesterovic for Jermaine O’Neal, is averaging 10.7 points, 5.3 assists (23rd in the NBA), 4.8 rebounds and 1.0 steals. Ford has struggled with his shooting in Indy’s last nine games, making just 39-of-111 from the field (35.1 percent) after making 47.9 percent of his shots in the season’s first seven games.

7) Guess who’s third in the NBA in rebounding? That’s right, it’s Troy Murphy, who’s pulling in 10.9 rebounds a night, trailing only Dwight Howard and Andris Biedrins.

8) Indiana ranks ninth in the NBA in scoring (L.A. is No. 1), but just 20th in scoring defense, where the Lakers are eighth. Indiana is 28th in turnovers, however, which doesn’t bode well against a Lakers’ team who forces the most turnovers in the NBA. The Pacers have been solid on the glass, however, ranking second in defensive rebounding and third overall. But guess who’s the league’s top rebounding team? The Lakers, second on the offensive glass and third on the defensive boards.

9) Tuesday’s game against the Pacific Division-leading Lakers is Indiana’s second consecutive against a division-leading team, after facing the Southeast Division-leading Orlando Magic on Saturday, but the schedule doesn’t get easier. Indiana goes on to play the Central Division-leading Cleveland Cavs and Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics twice. If you’re counting, that’s five straight against division leaders. Yikes.

10) Fellow Pacers first-round picks Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert are playing pretty well in limited minutes for Indiana, which isn’t a shocker as both played extended college careers for great programs (Kansas and Georgetown, respectively). Rush is putting up 7.4 points and 2.7 boards in 23 minutes a night, while Hibbert’s at 3.7 points, 2.7 boards and 1.0 blocks in just 10.6 minutes per game. His average of 4.56 blocks per 48 minutes ranks fourth in the NBA.

Make sure to come back to the Basketblog later for the pregame report, live running diary and postgame wrap.