Danny Granger injury: Pacers target Dec. 20 return against Rockets

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The Indiana Pacers finally are willing to put a return date for forward Danny Granger, who has yet to play this season because of a calf strain.

Danny Granger seemingly sees the light at the end of the injury tunnel. Pacers.com reports that Granger expects to reach the end of the tunnel on Friday, the target date for his return from a calf strain that has kept him out of the first 23 games of the year so far.

Granger was first expected back on Dec. 13, but that was pushed back because coach Frank Vogel and team president Larry Bird wanted the veteran forward to find a rhythm in practice and get back into game shape.

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On Sunday, Granger told Pacers.com that the previous expected return date was only based on how he felt rather than it marking a setback.

"Me and Frank talk after practice - he'll call me in or he'll call me over," said Granger. "Just because I said ‘Hopefully I can play on Friday,' I was thinking hopefully. And then when I came and I practiced, and I dribbled the ball off my foot twice and I shot an airball on a layup, me and Frank met again and I'm like, ‘I'm not ready,' and he was like, ‘No, you're not ready yet.'"

Granger played five games last season in a failed return from a knee injury, but in his place, small forward Paul George became an All-Star and shooting guard Lance Stephenson developed into a quality starter. Now, Vogel has a fine problem to have -- implementing the Pacers' former leading scorer into the rotation.

Indy Cornrows: More on the Pacers

Indiana plays the Detroit Pistons at home on Monday then visits the Miami Heat on Wednesday. ESPN will air the Pacers hosting the Houston Rockets on Friday in what could be Granger's return.

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