Dec 19 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Utah 104-84. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz Game Preview

Indiana Pacers (16-2) at Utah Jazz (4-15)


Utah fans aren’t used to watching their Jazz struggle. At 4-15 and sitting dead last in the Western Conference, Utah has not been witness to many bright spots this season.

Tonight could be another one of frustration as the Indiana Pacers enter town as the best team in the NBA. Indiana owns the league’s best record at 16-2 as well as its best defense. The Pacers make it difficult for their opponents to knock down jump shots and put up big offensive numbers.

Frank Vogel has instilled in his players a blue collar, hard-nosed, physical mentality that has turned them into an elite team. Indiana leads the NBA in defensive field goal percentage, blocked shots and points allowed.

There is hope for the Utah Jazz, but it likely won’t be on display tonight. Utah is inexperienced behind rookie Trey Burke and youngsters Alec Burks, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. They will have a rough outing against a veteran team like Indiana that likes the half-court game and tends to shut down its opposition in the second half.

Expect that to be the case tonight. Jazz forward Marvin Williams should get the call defensively on All-Star Paul George of the Pacers. Advantage: Indiana.

Burke has a similar game as George Hill, but with Hill’s experience and leadership, the Indiana Pacers also own the advantage at the point. David West and Roy Hibbert are simply too good on the glass down low, while Lance Stephenson likes to crash the boards with the second unit.

Stephenson is among the best rebounding guards in the league, so it will be important for Utah to block him out tonight.

The Utah Jazz have won three of their last four games. However, the Indiana Pacers have won seven of eight and 16 of their first 18. Indiana is 7-2 on the road and this will mark the third of five games on their west coast trip. They are coming off a competitive loss at the Moda Center in Portland on Monday.

Indiana will look to win in Utah for the first time in more than eight years. Pacers dominate 104-81.

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