Houston Rockets vs Indiana Pacers Preview

By Michael Ma

Jan 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (7) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi (28) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Keys for the Houston Rockets vs. the Indiana Pacers Friday night.

No Asik Trade/Injury Status

The long wait for an Omer Asik trade never came to be as the Rockets ended up not trading him on Wednesday’s self-imposed deadline. For now, Asik remains a Rocket, and head coach Kevin McHale, along with Kelvin Sampson, fully expect him to be back to fill the void at the backup center spot. However, he continues to recover from swelling in his knees, and won’t be available to play against the Pacers.

Jeremy Lin, on the other hand, practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering from back spasms. The Rockets will decide if Friday afternoon if he will be able to play or not.

For the Pacers, Danny Granger is expected to make his regular season debut.

Stingy Defense

While the Chicago Bulls allowed the 2nd fewest points per game in the NBA, and the Rockets cruised to a 109-94 win on Wednesday, the Pacers come into Friday’s matchup with the league’s best defense. Indiana allows just 90.2 points per game, as well as the fewest fast-break points per game.

Next Level Superstars

Paul George is slowly establishing himself into a superstar in the NBA, and James Harden is making his way up to become one of the elites in the game. Harden struggled last year in the 2 matchups, as George held him to just 26 percent shooting from the field combined, while breaking out for 31 points on Jan. 18 in a Pacers’ win. Which star can shine the brightest will lead his team to victory.

Tip: 7 PM CT