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Sacramento at Indiana

Venue: Conseco Fieldhouse

Tyler Hansbrough's return to the starting lineup has helped the Indiana Pacers build a sizable lead for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth.

It's Danny Granger, though, who has excelled in recent matchups with the Sacramento Kings.

The Pacers will try to take another step toward ending their playoff drought Friday night by topping the visiting Kings, who could get leading scorer Tyreke Evans back from injury.

Hansbrough's late season surge began during the Pacers' six-game slide earlier this month. To shake his team out of that slump, interim coach Frank Vogel inserted the second-year forward into the starting five March 9.

That move paid dividends four days later as Hansbrough scored a team-high 29 points in a 106-93 win at New York. He followed with a career-best 30 in the finale of a home-and-home series, and he's averaged 21.0 points and 7.6 rebounds over the past 10 games.

"He's given us a huge lift," Vogel said. "He's one of the big reasons why since I took over that I believe that this team can make a serious run. ... I've got a great deal of confidence in that young man, and he's shown that he can really play."

With Hansbrough's help, the Pacers (32-40) have won five of seven, and he scored 24 points in a pivotal 111-88 rout of Charlotte on Wednesday.

Danny Granger led the way with 33 points as Indiana extended its lead on eighth place in the East to three games over the Bobcats and Milwaukee. Indiana also got some help from Sacramento, which prevailed 97-90 over the Bucks on Wednesday.

"We want to go into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the NBA," Vogel said. "We're excited about the last 10 games. These guys are hungry. They're motivated.

"We know how close we are. We all want it very badly."

With Granger's help, the Pacers could move closer to their goal. Indiana's leading scorer has averaged 34.5 points in his last four games against the Kings (18-52), and he had a season-high 37 in a 107-98 win in Sacramento on Nov. 30 despite suffering from the flu.

Evans missed 10 of 14 shots in that game while finishing with 16 points. He has been sidelined since Feb. 13 due to plantar fasciitis, but the 2010 rookie of the year might see action Friday.

"It will be great to have him back," guard Beno Udrih said. "It will be interesting to see how (Coach Paul Westphal) is going to divide up the minutes."

Udrih scored 25 points and Marcus Thornton had a team-best 27 in Wednesday's victory, which came two days after a 40-point drubbing at Chicago.

Since coming over in a trade with New Orleans on Feb. 23, Thornton has averaged 21.8 points in 15 games with the Kings. He averaged 7.8 in 46 contests with the Hornets.

"Mixing Tyreke in there gives us a very strong backcourt rotation," Westphal said. "The way Beno and Marcus are playing, it shows we have a chance to have a really, really good backcourt."

Indiana is seeking its third consecutive win at Conseco Fieldhouse against Sacramento and fifth in six overall matchups.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Game Odds
Sacramento 7.5 Indiana -7.5
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Sacramento2nd Pacific 101.00001-0Won 1
Indiana2nd Central 101.00001-0Won 1

Related Video

D CollisonSuspension
No injuries reported.
Key Players
, PG
37.8 Min. Per Game 35.4 Danny<br>Granger
, SF
18.3 Pts. Per Game 20.7
5.5 Ast. Per Game 2.6
4.9 Reb. Per Game 5.4
41.1 Field Goal % 42.5
29.1 Three Point % 38.3
76.3 Free Throw % 84.9
Team Rankings
Sacramento Kings2671.18
Indiana Pacers1981.01
Series Game Log
Oct 28 @ Brooklyn 
Nov 25Indiana 
Jan 5Indiana 
Feb 3 @ Brooklyn 
Other Games
NJ 85 Final
Orl 95
Char 83 Final
Bos 81
Det 91 Final
Cle 97
Phi 99 Final
Miami 111
Mil 102 Final
NY 96
Mem 96 Final
Chi 99
Min 103 Final
OKC 111
Wash 94 Final
Den 114
NO 106 Final
Pho 100
SA 96 Final
Port 98
Tor 100 Final
GS 138
LAC 104 Final
LAL 112