Pacers-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

Since emerging as an Eastern Conference contender the past couple of seasons, the Indiana Pacers have been known for their outstanding defense.

That's certainly remained the case during the best start in franchise history.

The visiting Pacers will try to continue that defensive effort as they go for their 13th win in 14 games against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

After ranking 10th with 94.4 points allowed per game in 2011-12 and second with 90.7 last season, Indiana (13-1) has been even better while giving up a league-best 87.4 this year.

The Pacers also top the NBA with a 39.2 defensive field-goal percentage, well below last year's league-leading mark of 42.0, after holding Minnesota to its worst percentage in four years (32.6) in Monday's 98-84 victory.

Indiana has won 13 of 14 to open a season for the first time in franchise history, including its ABA days.

''We get stops, we get blocks, we get steals, creating easy offense on the other end and that's really the recipe to separate from other teams,'' said forward Paul George, who had 26 points, eight rebounds and four steals Monday.

That's also been the key to the Pacers' success against Charlotte (7-8), which has been limited to 88.1 points and a 39.8 field-goal percentage while dropping 12 of 13 in the series.

Indiana has particularly stymied the Bobcats recently, holding them to a total of 153 points on 33.1 percent shooting in winning the past two meetings by a combined 51.

In the most recent matchup Feb. 13, George recorded his first career triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 101-77 victory in Indiana.

George has entered superstar territory this year, ranking among the league leaders with 24.3 points per game. His 26.8 scoring average on the road trails only LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Point guard George Hill will try to build on a solid performance after posting a season-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with three 3-pointers, seven assists and five steals against the Timberwolves. In the last meeting in Charlotte, he had 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a 103-76 win Jan. 15.

Center Roy Hibbert led the way with 18 points in that contest, but he's looking to get back on track after Monday's four-point effort.

The Pacers hope to add to the Bobcats' struggles at home, where they've dropped five of six following a 96-86 loss to Boston on Monday.

Charlotte ranks in the NBA's top three defensively, allowing 91.9 points on 43.4 percent shooting, but it has surrendered 97.7 points and a 46.9 field-goal percentage during this stretch at home.

Kemba Walker had 28 points and Gerald Henderson added 20 on Monday for the Bobcats, who were hoping to get above .500 after 15 games for the first time in franchise history. Instead, they lost for the fourth time in six games.

''I don't know what it is right now with us being at home, but we just don't have that energy like we have on the road,'' said center Al Jefferson, who had 14 points. "That's unheard of for me.''

Since averaging 11.4 points on 24.0 percent shooting over a five-game stretch, Walker has scored 21.5 per game and shot 53.8 percent over his last four.

Walker, averaging a team-best 16.5 points, has scored 19.0 per game in his last three at home against the Pacers.

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