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Nets-Pacers Preview

AP - Sports

Lance Stephenson isn't being shy with his displeasure about being snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

The Brooklyn Nets have seen firsthand just how much he's elevated his game this season.

Stephenson looks to help guide the Indiana Pacers to a four-game season sweep of visiting Brooklyn when the teams meet Saturday night.

The fourth-year guard is a leading candidate to be named the league's most improved player while averaging 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists. Stephenson recorded his fourth triple-double - he had none in his first three seasons - after finishing with 14 points, 10 boards and 10 assists in Thursday's 102-94 loss to Phoenix.

Despite his solid production for an Indiana squad that has the best record in the East, Stephenson was not selected as a reserve by the conference's coaches - and he's not happy about it.

"I'm very upset, but I'm just going to keep working hard and prove everybody wrong every time I'm on that floor," Stephenson told the team's official website.

He'll look to take that aggression out on the Nets while helping the Pacers (35-10) snap out of a minor funk that has seen them go 2-3 in their last five. Stephenson has averaged 21.3 points while shooting 61.5 percent from the field in the three meetings with Brooklyn.

He had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Paul George - an All-Star along with center Roy Hibbert - scored 24 points in a 105-91 home victory over the Nets in the most recent matchup Dec. 28.

Hibbert finished with 26 points and George, who shot 5 of 17 from the field, finished with 12 points and 12 boards against the Suns as Indiana failed to overcome a 17-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.

It marked Indiana's first home game after a five-game West Coast trip.

"We didn't wake up until late, and by that point it was too late," George said. "We can't make no excuses. Every team goes through long stretches on the road. For us, we should have been happy to be back home. There's no excuse. We let one slip."

The Pacers made a major addition Saturday with the signing of free agent center Andrew Bynum, but he's not expected to join the team until next week.

Brooklyn (20-24) has won four of five on the road, but it has dropped two straight after winning 10 of 11 to begin 2014. It fell 104-103 on Monday after Toronto's Patrick Patterson scored in the closing seconds, then was routed 120-95 by Oklahoma City on Friday.

The Thunder set an NBA season high by shooting 63.6 percent and outrebounded the Nets 41-17 - the fewest boards in a single game in NBA history.

Shaun Livingston, tasked with guarding NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, finished with a team-high 16 points. Deron Williams came off the bench for the sixth straight game since returning from injury and scored 14 points.

Joe Johnson, named an All-Star reserve, scored nine points. He finished with nine and shot 4 of 12 in the last meeting with the Pacers.

Andrei Kirilenko didn't play because of a right calf strain, and Andray Blatche left in the second half due to a bruised hip. Their statuses for this contest are unclear.

"We have to look at what we can do to get better for (Saturday)," coach Jason Kidd said.

George had 24 points in a 96-91 win over the Nets on Nov. 9, and he and Stephenson finished with 26 apiece in a 103-86 victory Dec. 23.

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