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Preview: Indiana At Houston

When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 10, 2016
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

The Indiana Pacers have improved their defense of late – to the point that it can carry the team even when Paul George has an off night. The Houston Rockets, who host the Pacers on Sunday, are coming off a pair of wins and need one more to reach .500.

George went 3-of-13 from the field on Friday but Indiana held the New Orleans Pelicans to 37.3 percent shooting to pick up a third win in four games. The Pacers allowed an average of 84.7 points in the last three wins and have held the opponent under 90 points in their last five triumphs. The Rockets entered the weekend fourth in the NBA in scoring average at 103.9 points and pulled out of a four-game slide by beating the Utah Jazz at their own game. The Jazz managed to slow the Houston offense in back-to-back games but the Rockets executed better down the stretch and pulled out a pair of wins.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, ROOT (Houston)

ABOUT THE PACERS (21-15): Indiana suffered a 103-100 overtime loss at Miami to begin the four-game road trip on Monday but ensured itself at least a .500 trip by locking down against the Orlando Magic and the Pelicans. George had a string of three straight games with at least 30 points come to an end at Orlando on Wednesday and continued the downturn on Friday, but made his mark with three steals and seven rebounds at New Orleans. George is backed up on the defensive end by center Ian Mahinmi, who recorded 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks on Friday.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (18-19): Houston was down to nine healthy players on Thursday against the Jazz and got a big boost from rookie Montrezl Harrell, who was deployed mainly on the defensive end in his 27 minutes and guarded around the entire frontcourt. “Once again (Harrell) is ready to play,” star guard James Harden told ESPN.com. “He played a lot of minutes and he was very effective. He didn’t score the ball too much but just everything, defensively being in the right place, setting screens, little things that won’t show up in the stat sheet but he got the job done.” Harrell could play a big role again on Sunday if center Dwight Howard (back) remains out.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Rockets PG Ty Lawson will serve the second of a three-game suspension on Sunday.

2. Indiana PG Monta Ellis is averaging eight assists in the last three games.

3. Houston has taken three straight in the series by a total of 48 points.

PREDICTION: Pacers 102, Rockets 97