The Indiana Pacers secured a wire-to-wire victory over the Memphis Grizzlies to put them back in the win column, but needed some big plays late to hold on despite a 17-point fourth quarter lead. Early in the quarter, the Pacers led 105-88, but surrendered momentum to Memphis on a double technical between Lance Stephenson and Ben McLemore, leading to a 10-0 Grizzlies run.
In the run, the Pacers missed six shots and had four turnovers as shades of blown leads against New Orleans and New York began to surface. Eventually, however, Indiana was able to settle things down with a pair of threes, but the Grizzlies continued to push, drawing the game within four with 2:47 remaining. Darren Collison would pull up for a huge jumper a minute later to get it back to six, only to see rebounding fall apart for the Pacers, as the lead was once again cut to four on the following possession.
In the final two minutes alone, Memphis pulled in five offensive rebounds, including a pair on the play that led Mario Chalmers to bring the Grizzlies to within four. A bad Victor Oladipo pull-up missed three sent Memphis back the other way, seeming to find themselves in good position with Brandan Wright at the rim, but a tremendous recovery from Myles Turner led him to a game-saving block with 34 seconds remaining.
Oladipo hit a pair of free throws to make a six-point game again, but once again, a failure to secure a rebound led to a tough Marc Gasol and-one that made it a one possession game with 12 seconds to go. On the inbound, Turner was quick to give the ball up to Bojan Bogdanovic, who was then quick to dribble towards the baseline, as it was knocked out of bounds off of him.
The Grizzlies were granted another possession down three, but a deep Gasol three went awry, allowing Indiana to hold on to the 116-113 victory. However, much of the play in the fourth quarter aside (voiced by Collison after the game), the decision on the prior possession to not hold strong and force an opportunity to ice the game at the free throw line remains a perplexing one.
With the Grizzlies out of time outs, Indiana really only needed to go 1-2 in that trip to finish off the win, but made it especially hard on themselves by trying to play keep away. Indiana was an impressive 18-20 at the free throw line on the night, though a bulk of that came from Collison, who was 12-12, but it still outlined a frustrating quarter of play from the Pacers.
The Pacers moved themselves back into the win column in large part because of Collison. He finished with a season high 30 points and eight assists, his first 30-point game in nearly five years. Collison was big early, scoring 20 in the first half and providing Indiana a response to a dominating performance from Gasol, who had 35.
Collison’s eight assists led Indiana on a night when they had great ball movement for at least the first three quarters, dishing 29 on the night, moving the Pacers to 5-0 on the season when they have at least 27 assists in a game. They also shot 50.6% from the floor, also making them 5-0 when they shoot over 50%.
Neither of these numbers are all that revolutionary to think of them linking the Pacers to success, since teams that shoot well and score with ease tend to be more successful, but it goes to show the value Indiana needs to place in ball movement paired with their pace. For three quarters, the Pacers were on point offensively, topping 30 points each quarter.
It also comes down to simply making shots at times too. Indiana was a steady 12-24 from three point range, hosting a healthy advantage over Memphis, who was just 8-32, hitting just two in the first half. This puts Indiana at 6-1 on the year when they shoot over 40% from three, which goes to ball movement putting guys in position to hit those threes.
Bogdanovic in particular was the benefit of deep looks, shooting 4-6 as part of his 16. Oladipo also had three, totaling 21 on the night, but he needed 20 shots to get there. Oladipo only had a pair of free throws on the night, though not for lack of trying. Cory Joseph also had a pair as part of his 10 off the bench.
In the starting lineup, Turner finished with 10 points, but was minimal in terms of impact for much of the first half. Gasol enjoyed going to work on Turner, and it wasn’t until later in the game that Turner began to feel more comfortable in guarding Gasol, eventually upping his block totals in the process to finish with three.
Domantas Sabonis continues to impress with a 13 point night in the second unit and Stephenson shot well at 4-6, leading the Pacers in rebounding with seven. Thaddeus Young’s shooting woes continued, going just 2-8, but did have a team high three steals, which helped Indiana to a 19-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
All in all, the Pacers put on a show in the first three quarters, leading to a solid road win over Memphis. With the game coming up as a victory, the fourth quarter struggles can be glossed over a bit tonight, but it will need to continue being a point of emphasis for the team in terms of finishing games. The Pacers will return home on Friday to face the Detroit Pistons in hopes of getting some revenge after a lopsided loss in Detroit last Wednesday.