The Indiana Pacers had it rolling from the opening tip Friday night and cruised to a 112-86 win over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.
Plenty of preseason positives to point to from this game but, just as I don't get too exercised over preseason problems, I'll temper the good feelings by considering the context of this game.
The most impressive highlight of the night came during the opening tip when Mike Dunleavy joined T.J. Ford, Danny Granger, Jeff Foster and Rasho Nesterovic on the court. After sitting out the start of the preseason, Dun's first appearance was as impressive as it was brief. Mike played the whole first quarter, but quickly made an impact setting a positive tone that all his teammates seemed to follow. He finished the quarter with 9 points, knocked down a 3-ball, grabbed four rebounds and collected a couple of steals.
This is the type of performance I envision for this Pacers team when the team is firing on all cylinders. Lots of perimeter scoring along with plenty of layups as player and ball movement creates great looks all over the court. Consider Dunleavy, Brandon Rush, Stephen Graham and Marquis Daniels splitting up most of the shooting guard minutes and some small forward minutes. Tonight the four combined for 44 points, shot 7-9 from 3-land and shot better than 50%. You can mix and match the minutes and numbers, but the Pacers won't lose many games when they get that type of production.
Daniels started the second half and played a little over 8 minutes before shutting it down. He was on the floor for the team's strong third quarter when they took the game and put it away. Both Dun and Daniels may not play tomorrow night with the back-to-back games. I'm sure it wasn't a pain free night so there's no sense in pushing it at this point. According to Mark Boyle, Troy Murphy may suit up tomorrow in San Antonio.
Back to the game, I loved to see Rush build a little confidence and let loose with that beautiful stroke. Stephen Graham had one of those games that really excites me. He is so tough when dropping jumpers like he was tonight. These two will have to take advantage of every minute they get, especially Stevie. Developing a quick-strike mentality for instant offense off the bench will earn one of them a big role on this team.
Roy Hibbert put up great numbers tonight, again making a strong case for a spot in the playing rotation. Hibbert finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo looked real strong again in the first quarter for the Grizz. These guys are lethal. I can see these two teams playing some entertaining games in the regular season. First team to 120 wins.
Hamed Haddadi, the 7'2" Memphis center from Iran, played in the second half. He didn't do anything spectacular but Slick Leonard wondered if there was anyone taller than Haddadi in Iran. I'm here for you, Slick. Meet Jaber Rouzbahani, a 7'5", 22 year old who also plays center on the Iranian national team.
Ahh, no better way to end a preseason game report than thinking about the tallest living person in Iran.