The Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic have been forced to battle through injuries throughout this season.
The Pacers may be getting two key players back — something the Magic did in their last game.
David West could make his season debut for Indiana on Friday night while Roy Hibbert could also be back against an Orlando team starting a six-game trip.
It has been more notable who has been in street clothes than who is actually on the court this season for these clubs. Indiana (6-9) has seen its players miss 76 games while Orlando (6-11) has been without its players for 45.
The Pacers are currently without West (sprained right ankle), George Hill (bruised left knee), C.J. Watson (bruised right foot), Hibbert (sprained left ankle) in addition to forward Paul George (fractured right leg). West may debut since he has been practicing while Hibbert has missed the last two games.
Orlando, which is 3-0 on Fridays, starts this trip in much better shape health-wise since Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn returned Wednesday. Harris was back after missing two games with a strained right calf and had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the club’s third straight loss, 111-96 to Golden State.
The Magic fell to 2-2 in which they use their preferred starting five of Harris, Channing Frye, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Victor Oladipo.
“We need to learn how to play with each other fast and we need to do it consistently night in and night out,” Harris said. “With this road trip, I think that’s going to help us. We’re going to have to, otherwise it could be a bad road trip.”
The Magic also welcomed the return of backup center O’Quinn, who had six points and seven rebounds after missing 15 games with an ankle sprain.
The big man could be useful Friday, particularly if West and Hibbert are on the floor for Indiana. The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference in rebound margin at plus-5.3.
“As a team we’ve gotta protect the paint, it can’t be just me, it can’t be just Vuc, it can’t be Channing,” O’Quinn said. “As a team, we’ve got to protect the paint a little better. I just want to get out there and hopefully add to it.”
The Pacers are starting a back-to-back set for the fifth time, going 0-4 in the first game so far. This is a brief stop home before they start a four-game trip Saturday after splitting games at Dallas and San Antonio this week.
Indiana fought gamely and led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 106-100 defeat to the Spurs. Rodney Stuckey made his second straight start and scored a team-high 22 points.
“We have been playing well the last couple of games,” forward Luis Scola said. “We did enough to win the game tonight, but they hit jumpers in the third and fourth quarters and they got away with the win.”
Indiana took three of four from Orlando last season, including both at home.
Former Indiana Hoosiers star Oladipo, a second-year Magic guard, has totaled 18 points on 6-of-22 shooting and 13 assists in his first two games as a pro in Indianapolis.