INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Danny Granger's season is ending the same way it began in Indiana - with a sore left knee that will require more medical treatment.
The team announced Thursday that Granger would miss the rest of the season so he could undergo surgery on the bothersome knee that has slowed him since last year's playoffs.
The move comes just two days after coach Frank Vogel told reporters he expected Granger to return during the Pacers' current four-game road trip.
"These games will be sort of his rehab assignments and we're going to manage it the way we did before, with 15 or 20 minutes per game," Vogel told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "We hope we can establish his rhythm as soon as possible."
Indiana won at Houston on Wednesday night, then headed to Dallas for a game Thursday night.
But instead of getting Granger back, the former All-Star consulted with the team's medical staff and Dr. James Andrews, the noted sports physician. Together they decided that after spending most of the season treating the injury conservatively, surgery was now the best option left.
Granger sat out the entire first half of the season with patellar tendinosis after undergoing a second injection to treat the injury in October. He returned for five games in February, coming off the bench each time and averaging 5.4 points, before the sore knee flared up again. He hasn't played since then, and Vogel knew time was running short for Granger to make a significant contribution in the playoffs.
"If he reinjures it or it flares up again, we'd have to look at some alternatives because you're at that time," Vogel said when asked whether it was getting too late into the season to work Granger back into action.
The Pacers say Granger should be healthy for the start of training camp
Indiana will now continue the bid for its first Central Division title without its top scorer over each of the previous five seasons. Without him, the Pacers (45-27) have built a five-game lead over Chicago in the division chase and are just percentage points behind the New York Knicks in the chase for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed.
The Pacers also have been playing without power forward David West, who has missed six straight games with a sprained lower back. Starters George Hill (strained left groin) and Lance Stephenson (strained right hip flexor) both returned to the lineup at Houston after missing Monday night's game against Atlanta.