Opting to make their third preseason game a meaningful one, the Indiana Pacers played heavier minutes for their starters and were rewarded with a late victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. After going back and forth all night, the Pacers came away with the exhibition win behind a tremendous fourth quarter from Jeremy Lamb, including a game winner with 3.6 seconds remaining.
Lamb’s ultra smooth jumper capped a 15-point fourth quarter, featuring three and-ones for good measure. It was the first real glimpse of Lamb’s abilities since his return from injury last season, finishing with 20 on 6-12 shooting, including an 8-8 night at the line, tops for the team.
Lamb was one of seven players to play 25 minutes or more as Rick Carlisle shortened his already short-handed rotation to about nine throughout the night. With injuries piling up for Indiana, they were now without Malcolm Brogdon and Kelan Martin, both of whom had solid outings last Friday against Cleveland.
That moved T.J. McConnell into the starting lineup, creating a curious first quarter offense from the starters, with most of the point guard action appearing to run through Torrey Craig, who struggled all night shooting the ball, going 1-8 for three points. McConnell didn’t fare much better shooting, scoring five on 2-7 shooting, but did have a game high seven assists.
Beyond that, Indiana’s other three starters played very well. Domantas Sabonis led the way with 24 points and 13 rebounds (plus three steals!). He got minutes in the final minutes alongside Isaiah Jackson, who had nine points, including an alley-oop courtesy of Brad Wanamaker.
Though the Indiana defense struggled at times, particularly in limiting Memphis’s effectiveness from three point range (they made 16 to Indiana’s five), Jackson was a real bright spot down the stretch on that end of the floor, disrupting a lot of what the Grizzlies looked to do. Myles Turner meanwhile had his best night defensively, blocking three shots, while also showcasing some strong offensive moves as part of his 13 points.
Indiana’s other rookie, Chris Duarte, had his best night of the preseason, scoring 21 points on 9-18 shooting. It was an impressive night from Duarte not only in getting buckets, but in decision making, controlling things on the offensive end (four assists) and also disrupting a lot on the defensive end, blocking a shot at the rim early and picking up a pair of timely steals.
Off the bench, Oshae Brissett had a nice bounceback night in his second half minutes, scoring six and not rushing things in the way he did against Cleveland, which, unsurprisingly, helped his, and the team’s cause. Goga Bitadze got that run in the first half and wasn’t able to make anything of those minutes, going scoreless with no boards and no blocks.
The win improves the Pacers to 2-1 in preseason play as they look to close things out in a rematch against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. With so many guys playing extended exhibition minutes tonight, it will be interesting to see how Carlisle manages playing time in the final game, though his hand may be forced given the sheer number of injuries the Pacers have sustained.