The Indiana Pacers played in front of an excited 18,165 fans in their home opener of the regular season where they faced off against the team that ended their playoff hopes last season, the Memphis Grizzlies. Throughout the contest, it was a physical matchup of contrasting styles.
The Grizzlies were led by Marc Gasol who had 20 points, eight rebounds, and three assists on 7 of 13 shooting. The Pacers leader in Paul George struggled offensively but still put up 18 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on 5 of 15 shooting.
The Pacers opened up the first quarter struggling from the field on the offensive end and struggling securing the rebounds on the defensive end, resulting in many second chance points for the Grizzlies in the early going. After Indiana was down 25-10 in the quarter, the bench unit came in with the home crowd seeing rookie Myles Turner for the first time. Turner impressed immediately with his shot blocking and tenacity in the paint as the Pacers trimmed the lead to 29-20 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Myles Turner picked up where he left off and continued to contribute valuable minutes to chip away at the Grizzlies lead. The Pacers regained the lead on a Rodney Stuckey free throw at 43-42 and continued to use their speed to their advantage and playing the passing lanes effectively.
The Pacers struggled in taking care of the ball and had more turnovers in the first half than they did the entire game in Toronto on Wednesday night (13 compared to 11). The Pacers sloppy play kept the Grizzlies in control as they led 50-49 at the half with Ian Mahinmi leading the way with nine points and Myles Turner with a productive six points. While both teams shot 48 percent from the field, the bench scoring was the difference as the Pacers led in that category, 26-19.
The Pacers continued to play good defense throughout the third quarter and extended the lead as high as nine during the quarter. The demise of the Pacers in the quarter was they were never able to really extend the lead into double digits or force the Grizzlies into a situation of needing to regroup. Each time the Pacers could string a few possessions together, they would have a bad possession by means of a turnover or a bad shot attempt.
C.J. Miles and George Hill led the attack in the quarter as they combined for 11 of the 26 points in the quarter. The Grizzlies began to string strong possessions together, as they closed the gap to 75-73 at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter was a lot more offensively minded than the first three quarters as the Grizzlies increased their energy and the Pacers struggled to maintain the same energy. The Grizzlies used their raw size and low post proficiency to take a 92-86 lead midway through the quarter with Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol putting pressure on the Pacers defense in consistent pick-and-roll setups.
Paul George and George Hill led the way afterwards and had an 11-2 run to take a 96-94 lead with four minutes left in the contest. From that point on, the Grizzlies veterans simply executed at a much faster pace and executed a game clinching 18-7 run.
The Pacers simply struggled to run their offense in crunch time and also could not prevent Mike Conley Jr. from penetrating the perimeter and making great plays. Conley produced great assists, and the Grizzlies displayed great chemistry of the caliber that the Pacers will strive for this season. Conely finished with the game’s only double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. Another key contributor for the Grizzlies was Zach Randolph who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Pacers received good contributions from George Hill and C.J. Miles who had 20 points and 18 points, respectively. The Pacers simply did not execute in the fourth quarter, as they finished with 20 turnovers and allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 50 percent from the field. In order for the Pacers to tally their first win of the season Saturday at home against the Utah Jazz, they need to get Monta Ellis going, Paul George needs to shoot more efficiently, and they need to defend at a higher level over the course of the contest.
Quotes of the Game
“Knowing that I’m going to be a big part of this team, it means a lot to me," Myles Turner said of his role with the Pacers.
“That’s the biggest problem we’re having just the inconsistency of who we’re playing with…trying so many different groups, we got to establish an identity, and we have yet to do so yet," Paul George said of playing different lineups in consecutive games
(Quotes courtesy of Candace Buckner of the IndyStar)
A Look Ahead
The Pacers next play at home against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, October 31st ,and then travel to Detroit when they play the Pistons on Tuesday, November 3rd.
The Grizzlies head home to host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, October 31st, and then travel to California when the face the Golden State Warriors on Monday, November 2nd.