January 03, 2015

Roy Hibbert is about to see his former team up close for the first time. He might miss the show if he blinks.

The surging Indiana Pacers look to keep speeding through the league when they visit their former center and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Hibbert was a two-time All-Star and helped the Pacers reach the postseason four times during his seven years in Indiana. The 7-foot-2 center was traded in the offseason to the Lakers, who now own the worst record in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Pacers transitioned into an up-tempo style and are displaying some of the most electric offense in the league.

Indiana (10-5) has won 10 of 12, but the offense has really taken off during a four-game streak. The Pacers have averaged 115.5 points in their last four with matching 48.6 percentages overall from the field and from 3-point range.

Paul George has been the driving force behind Indiana's surge. He missed the first 76 games of the 2014-15 season after breaking his leg at a USA Basketball scrimmage, but he has averaged 30.3 points in his last 10 games while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 52.1 from beyond the arc.

He finished three points off his career high with 40 after hitting 7 of 8 3-pointers during a 123-106 win at Washington on Tuesday, and he poured in 33 more in Friday's 104-92 home victory over Chicago.

''I feel confident that when it's time to settle things down, I'm ready,'' George said. ''I'm ready for that opportunity, I'm ready for that moment to get the ball in my hand and make the right play.''

Indiana opens a four-game road trip with two at Staples Center, the second Wednesday night against the Clippers, before playing at Portland Thursday and Utah Saturday.

The Pacers began the season 2-3 on the road but have won their last two.

"I think everybody's starting to realize that we've got a heck of an opportunity here," coach Frank Vogel said. "This team, this style of play, the way we're playing right now has a chance to really catch fire and we can accomplish some great things. We've got to go into this trip looking to really take care of our business."

Los Angeles (2-13) will play its only home game in a stretch of 11 before starting an eight-game road trip Tuesday in Philadelphia.

They dropped their fifth consecutive game with a 108-96 defeat at Portland on Saturday. The Trail Blazers made 48.7 percent of their shots to become the third team in a row to reach that number against the Lakers.

Hibbert averages 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots, but he has just eight points, 12 rebounds and one block in the last two games combined.

Kobe Bryant scored 21 points - his highest total since the season opener - against Portland on 7-of-20 shooting, but he logged 34 minutes. Bryant, who clutched his back after falling hard to the floor after a layup, and coach Byron Scott said they would wait to make a decision on his status for Sunday.

''It's tough,'' Bryant said. ''The legs aren't what they used to be. But I just continue to fight through and take the opportunities when they are there.''

The Lakers are 0-2 in the second of consecutive games, and Bryant did not play in either. Scott said Lou Williams will likely miss his second straight game for personal reasons, while Indiana's Jordan Hill, who spent three-plus seasons with the Lakers, is questionable with a sore lower back.

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