Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers at Grizzlies 120210


Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 at Memphis, 8 p.m.
Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers (17-8) vs. Grizzlies (13-13)

By Conrad Brunner

SCOUTING THE PACERS: When George Hill went down with a chip fracture in his left ankle, all of a sudden one of the team's chief strengths, depth, was mitigated. The Pacers are still searching for ways to compensate for Hill's absence. In the five games he's missed, the bench has averaged just 20.4 points, eight below its season average to that point, and has been outscored by 50. Because Hill is the top backup at both guard spots, the trickle down has affected two players as A.J. Price has temporarily moved into the rotation at point guard and Lance Stephenson has seen an increase in minutes at shooting guard. Both players have had moments, but not consistently. Only Tyler Hansbrough, who has averaged 13.3 points on 47 percent shooting in the last three games, has been reliably productive.

The Pacers will once again seek to avoid consecutive losses. They are one of three teams in the league (along with Chicago and Philadelphia) without a losing streak this season. Thus far, the Pacers have gone 7-0 after their losses with an average victory margin of 10.4 points. The last two games have been struggles. The Pacers blew a 21-point lead and had to rally in the fourth quarter to beat Utah Tuesday, then fell behind by 21 before trying to rally in a 10-point loss in Atlanta on Wednesday. Danny Granger's roller-coaster season is back on the downward slope as he has shot 31 percent overall, 30 percent from the 3-point line, in four games since his 36-point outburst in Minnesota.

SCOUTING THE GRIZZLIES: Memphis has not been a hot spot for the Pacers to visit. They've dropped four in a row to the Grizzlies by an average margin of 14.8 points, and have dropped their last three. The Grizzlies were dominant defensively last season, holding the Pacers to averages of 84 points, 36 percent shooting overall and 28 percent from the 3-point line in winning both matchups. Projected as one of the teams on the rise in the Western Conference coming off a first-round upset of San Antonio in the playoffs, the Grizzlies were sidetracked when power forward Zach Randolph went down four games into the season with a torn knee ligament.

With a 13-13 overall record, 8-4 at home, they're coping nicely as Rudy Gay (18.4 points, 6.7 rebounds), Marc Gasol (15.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.23 blocks) have been consistently strong. Indianapolis native Mike Conley (12.3 points, 7.0 assists, 2.5 steals) continues to improve at the point and the bench features explosive scorer O.J. Mayo (12.3 points). The Grizzlies snapped a three-game losing streak with an 85-80 victory over Minnesota Wednesday night.

KEY MATCHUP: Granger and Roy Hibbert both have struggled mightily against the Grizzlies. In last season's sweep, Granger shot 13 of 35 (.371) while Hibbert was just 5 of 18 (.278). While the Pacers have a greater variety of offensive weapons, it will be tough to beat Memphis if neither of their top two scorers breaks out.

QUOTE MARKS: "Obviously he's had success to earn the rotation and his numbers have gone up, his field goal percentage has gone up. If he's able to earn this type of recognition I think it's just going to help his confidence level, help his swagger and help his ability to produce at an even higher level." - Pacers Coach Frank Vogel on All-Star reserve center Hibbert

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Jeff Foster (lower back) is day-to-day, while George Hill (chip fracture is out. For the Grizzlies, Zach Randolph (knee) is out, while Tony Allen (hip/knee) is day-to-day.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game with Brooke Olzendam hosting the pre-game show at 7:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle in his 24th season of play-by-play, with Kevin Lee hosting the pre-game and halftime shows.

INTERACT: You can get in-game commentary from this group of Pacers personalities throughout the game on Twitter.

NEXT HOME GAME: The Pacers host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7:00 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. Saturday is also a Lucas Oil Family Night in which you receive a t-shirt and vouchers for a hot dog, chips and Pepsi product with select ticket purchases.