The Indiana Pacers are looking for a boost after opening their longest homestand of the season with a pair of overtime losses. They might get a significant one in their next game.
The Pacers might have perennial scoring leader Danny Granger back on the court for the first time this season for Wednesday night's visit from the Charlotte Bobcats.
Granger has spent the first 3 1/2 months of the season recovering from tendinosis in his left knee, and although an exact return date has not been set, a return before this weekend's All-Star break is possible.
How the forward, who has led Indiana (31-21) in scoring in each of the previous five seasons, will be used is also not clear, but he'll likely serve as a reserve initially before replacing Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup. Stephenson is averaging 13.4 points in his last eight games.
"We'll probably bring Danny off the bench for a short-period of time, till he gets his rhythm back," coach Frank Vogel said. "It will probably be only a handful of games."
If Granger, who owns an 18.2-scoring average in seven seasons with the Pacers, plays, he'll try to help his team avoid a third consecutive loss.
Indiana had won five straight and 15 in a row at home before beginning a five-game stay at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with Friday's 100-98 overtime loss to Toronto. Three days later it lost to Brooklyn 89-84 in extra time.
The Pacers missed their final four shots in regulation Monday and let the Nets rally from a four-point deficit in the final 1:03. They then made just 2 of 10 shots in the extra period and finished shooting 34.4 percent - their second-worst showing in Indianapolis.
Paul George was 1 for 10 with five points, while David West had seven on 2-of-11 shooting after being poked in the eye early in the game.
"Today was that day that things just didn't fall," said guard George Hill, who had a team-best 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting. "You can't be upset about it. We got great looks, especially late in the game."
Indiana will try to bounce back against a Charlotte team it's defeated 11 of 12 times. The Pacers have also won eight straight home meetings with the Bobcats (12-39), the latest a 96-88 final Jan. 12.
West recorded his first career triple-double in that game (14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists), and he was one of four players to score 15 or more points in a 103-76 rout in Charlotte on Jan. 15.
The Pacers also held the Bobcats to 34.7 percent shooting in that one and have allowed an average of 82.0 points on 37.0 percent shooting in the last six in the series.
Charlotte shot 36.5 percent in the season's first matchup Nov. 2, but Kemba Walker scored 30 to lead the Bobcats to a 90-89 victory.
Walker had 18 points Monday while Byron Mullens scored 25 to go with a career-high 18 rebounds as Charlotte snapped a seven-game skid with a 94-91 victory over visiting Boston.
"We need that from Byron and he can do it. We know he can do it every night," Walker said. "When he has big games like that, you know, I think that gives us a much better chance."
Mullens, who missed the two games against Indiana in January due to a sprained ankle, is averaging 17.6 points in five games after being sidelined the previous 5 1/2-weeks.