Seven more shots to be exact, and with a 104-90 final, those seven extra makes add up to a home loss the Pacers just couldn't avoid falling to 0-8 when they shoot below 40% from the floor.
This one smelled bad early after the Griz put a 13-0 run on the Pacers' starters to jump out to a 12 point lead in the first quarter. When Indiana's second unit responded with a 14-0 run of their own to open up the second quarter it looked like it might be one of those games that goes back and forth.
Unfortunately the Pacers couldn't keep up in the third quarter and then had no response for the rest of the game. After a Danny Granger 3-pointer cut the lead to one with 6:33 left in the third quarter, Memphis threw an 18-6 run at the Pacers to close the quarter, with O.J. May logging 8 of his 17 points on the night in that fatal stretch, to give the Griz a 13-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
That deficit held up as every time the Pacers appeared to be gathering momentum for a run, they would miss a shot at the rim or free throws or turn the ball over. Just a miserable game at the offensive end for the Pacers.
Meanwhile the Griz came up with just enough buckets or loose balls to cruise home, led by Rudy Gay's 30 points and Zach Randolph's 18 points and 16 rebounds. Z-Bo had a strong contingent of local fans cheering him on at the Fieldhouse and he didn't disappoint.
Hopefully the Pacers knocked all of the rust off and got all of the misses out of their system because after this game they appear to be sitting ducks waiting for the Boston Celtics to come to town on Tuesday.
After the jump, more thoughts and observations on this loss.
- After indicating that Jeff Foster would start at power forward tonight, Jim O'Brien went with Josh McRoberts instead. McRoberts had a nice assist to Darren Collison to open the scoring for the Pacers, but then had a turnover, foul and missed three pointer. James Posey subbed for J-Mac after 7:40 had passed in the first quarter and McRoberts would not return to the game.
- Jame Posey and Jeff Foster would split most of the PF minutes the rest of the way, although Tyler Hansbrough came in to shake things up for about nine minutes. Posey trying to guard Randolph in the post was easy pickings for Z-Bo early in the game, which prompted Foster's entry to the game. Foster started the second half as well and finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Posey was 0-fer on the night.
- Danny Granger tossed in a tough 29 points while going against Team USA teammate Rudy Gay. Gay seemed to get the best of Granger much of the night. Danny just had to grind his way through the game and ended up scoring ten points from the free throw line, which all things considered, is nice to see. It all came much easier for Gay, though.
- Roy Hibbert came out strong and assertive in the post against Marc Gasol. Minor detail though, he couldn't make a shot. Hibbert started the game 1-12 missing many from point-blank range, failing to find a friendly roll. Hibbert also kept grinding and things started going his way late in the game. A couple of makes and a coupled of strong dunks allowed him to finish 5-17 on the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Hopefully the late success pushes Hibbert out of his slump.
- On Memphis: Whenever I see the starting lineup for the Grizzlies I wonder why they aren't a few games over .500 instead of below. But then their depth is exposed and it all makes sense. To win games those starters need to get theirs while they're on the court and then hope any subs can hold on. No doubt that's one reason O.J. Mayo was moved to the bench, to try to help that second unit bridge the gap. He was able to do that tonight and the heavy hitters in the starting lineup came up big as well.
- At one point in the Memphis run to close the third quarter, the Pacers came up empty on six straight possessions in the third quarter
- During the Pacers 14-0 run in the second quarter, Brandon Rush and Solomon Jones looked fresh and ready to go for the kill. Solo ran the floor and was rewarded twice with a couple of dunks as he contributed six points to the run. Rush knocked down consecutive corner threes, shot with such confidence he appeared to give an affirmative nod on both shots as they were in mid-air and then started running to the other end. The two would combine for three points the rest of the way with Rush playing completely out of sorts in the second half. He had trouble hanging onto the ball and it seemed like everything he shot was short. How quickly it comes and goes.
- Point guard play was pretty non-descript tonight between Darren Collison and T.J. Ford. I'd say Ford played better, but neither did anything to force their will on the game. The only positive is that they weren't glaringly bad in any one area. I think that's a positive. Their counterpart, Mike Conley was also pretty quiet with 4 points, 10 assists and 2 steals.
- Noitced a couple of interesting stats picked up from Chris Denari and Michael Grady during the game. The Pacers have now lost four games in a row on the day after Christmas. That's no way for a team striving to one day play on Christmas Day to avoid playing the day after Christmas Day. Also, this was the 1900th home game for the Pacers with their record at home falling to 1225-675.