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Pacers final score: Pacers stumble in second half, losing to Grizzlies 112-100

After scoring 62 points in the first, Indiana could only muster up 38 second half points, allowing Memphis to chase them down and pull out the win at home. Bennedict Mathurin scored 27 points for Indiana.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

A disappointing second half kept the losses piling up for the Indiana Pacers, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies for their ninth straight road loss. The Pacers looked good for roughly 24 minutes, but were unable to keep up when the Grizzlies stepped up their defensive prowess, taking it to another level against a suddenly hapless Pacers squad.

It was a complete 180 from the first half, one the Pacers had firmly in control. They shot 51%, limited their mistakes, and got to the free throw line with reliable frequency. In the second half, everything took a turn for the worse and there was only one single stretch in which things appeared as if they might be settling down, only to turn out to be the eye of a hurricane in the shape of two massive Grizzlies runs.

Indiana got their own runs early, flipping an early 14-7 deficit into a lead on a 9-0 streak, than tearing through the end of the first quarter and start of the second with a 17-4 that suddenly put them up by 15. Bennedict Mathurin led the charge in the latter run, scoring 12 points in just over two and a half minutes.

The Pacers pushed their advantage as high 19 in the second quarter, leading 56-37 with 4:30 remaining in the half on a pair of Isaiah Jackson buckets. It was about this point that Memphis began to key in, getting six points to close the half from Ja Morant, who to that point had looked out of the game entirely, cutting the lead to 12 at the break.

Though Memphis closed the half strong, Myles Turner opened the second half on a positive, scoring six early points to push the lead back out to 16.

The mistakes began to pile up at that point as the Pacers turned it over on five consecutive possessions, allowing the Grizzlies to rattle off 10 straight points before Indiana could even get a shot up. They would miss those attempts, however, as Ziaire Williams hit a long two to tie the game at 70-70, completing an 18-2 Grizzlies run.

Andrew Nembhard pulled up for an impressive floater as a response, then followed his own miss on the following possession, attacking the basket for an three point play that gave Indiana some breathing room. Nembhard wasn’t done, however, finding Jackson inside for his own three point play, completing a crucial 8-2 Indiana run that put them back up by six.

Unfortunately, that was it. That was the eye. That was the steadiness the Pacers needed and it was the steadiness they couldn’t rely on. Memphis punched back, closing the quarter on an 8-1 run that gave them their first lead of the second half and outscored the Pacers 13-2 to open the fourth quarter to effectively put the game out of reach.

Mathurin would step up as a scorer, scoring 14 points in the fourth, but not a single one of his scoring possessions resulted in a stop on the other end, forcing Indiana to continuously spin in place until the game finished in a whimper. While Indiana’s defense was of course lacking, part of that was due in large part to the brilliant play of Morant in the quarter, dishing six assists in the fourth.

Mathurin led the Pacers on the night with 27 points and eight rebounds, but struggled filling out his night as a whole. His first and fourth quarters were necessary boosts for a lackluster Indiana offense, but he was just 1-9 for four points in the middle two periods. A similar night befell Turner, pairing a positive first half with a foul-ridden second half, taking him out of the game to end the third and midway through the fourth, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds.

Aaron Nesmith led the starters with 16 points, but likewise, his success was condensed as well. He had 14 points in the first half, just two in the second on a night when just he and Turner reached double figures among the starters. Chris Duarte finished with nine while Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell had just three points.

The duo shot a combined 1-9, including just 1-4 for Hield. While they had 11 assists (seven from McConnell), they nearly erased that positive with nine combined turnovers. That left a bulk of the scoring load to the second unit, which worked out reasonably well regarding Jackson, who had 13 points and three blocks. Nembhard meanwhile had 12 points.

The four-man bench also had nine of Indiana’s 11 offensive rebounds, a sticking point throughout the game, but one they were largely able to minimize, getting outscored 21-18 in second chance points. The same wasn’t true as far as turnovers, however. After committing just five in the first half, the Pacers had 13 after the break, giving Memphis a commanding 19-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

After hanging on to a play-in spot for much of this losing streak, the Pacers have finally slipped outside of the playoff picture all together, sliding to 11th in the East, passed by both Washington and Chicago, currently sitting with the eighth worst record in the league. Indiana will return home for a trio of games later this week, sitting idle until Thursday when they host the Los Angeles Lakers.