With just over four minutes remaining at Bankers Life Fieldhouse's opening night of the 2015-16 season, Paul George calmly sank two free throws, which gave Indiana a 96-94 advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies.
But down the stretch, for the second night in a row, the Pacers were unable to close out their opponent, this time succumbing to the front court of Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph.
In the final three minutes, the Grizzlies tore off a 7-0 run which featured four points for Gasol, leading the Pacers (0-2) to fall 112-103 in their first home game of the season.
"We're still trying to all get tied together," explained Paul George at his locker after the game. "The lineups haven't been consistent so we're still trying to work through things. It's an adjustment, it's a process. We've just got to figure it out one way or another."
George was able to fill up the stat sheet for the second night in a row, scoring 18 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and passing out five assists. PG brought the crowd to a fever pitch when he drained a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a lead with just under six minutes remaining in the game.
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Indiana started the game out flat against the Grizzlies' huge lineup of Gasol (20 points) and Randolph (eight rebounds) at the forwards, falling victim to runs of 7-0 and 13-4 in the first half.
But the bench combination of Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles blasted the Pacers back into the game, fueling an 11-0 run which brought Indiana within 3 points.
"If (the pace) is our best weapon, you have to continue to find ways to use it and it’s hard to do it when you don’t get stops too," Miles said.
With just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter, Rodney Stuckey received a pass from Paul George on the fast-break and finished in traffic with an and-1, putting the Pacers up 43-42. When the second half ended, the Grizzlies had retaken the lead, carrying a 50-49 advantage into the locker room.
But in the third quarter, for the second frame in a row, the Pacers outscored the Grizzlies, this time by a 26-23 margin in which they led by as many as nine points — their biggest lead of the evening.
But for the second night in a row to start the young 2015-16 season, the Pacers weren't able to close out their opponent in the waning moments of the game. A sign that their offense — which has looked potent for stretches of games so far — still needs some fine tuning.
"I don't think we're losing focus," said Mahinmi, who scored 11 points and added nine rebounds. "I think we're getting beat on certain points that hurt. I know there were a few times when there were 50-50 balls and they got them and they got on them on fast breaks. Those points really hurt, especially down in the fourth quarter."
Inside the Numbers
Although the Pacers were playing the vaunted front line of the Grizzlies, Indiana was only outrebounded by four, 42-38.
In his second NBA game, Myles Turner had a nice showing, making four of his six shots, including a thundering put-back slam off of a missed layup.
The Grizzlies starters outscored the Pacers starters 63-62.
Memphis outscored the Pacers 48-26 in the paint.
What They're Saying
"We’ve got to play better basketball. But we’ve got a good team. I’m confident in what we are and what we can be. We knew this would be a tough couple of games. We’re not tied together on the defensive end with our new guys, but I’m confident we’ll get there." -Pacers head coach Frank Vogel
"We have to continue to do the things we do well all during the game. Obviously, we play with that pace the whole game and that’s what creates a lot of opportunities. I think we’ve got to figure out that line of being under control and still playing with that pace in the fourth." -C.J. Miles
"Well they’re going with the stretch four, it’s a trend around the league that is creating problems. It opens up the inside, it makes the game less predictable, but we gotta do what we gotta do to win." -Grizzlies center Marc Gasol
Stat of the Night
A tough shooting night for Paul George, George Hill, and Mona Ellis (a combined 11-of-42 from the field), coupled with 20 team turnovers, proved to be enough to tilt the season's second game in Memphis' favor.
- Indiana's loss ends a five-game winning streak in the regular season home opener for the Pacers.
- The Grizzlies' 112 points was the second-highest scoring total ever recorded by Memphis in its series against the Pacers.
- Memphis used a 14-3 run late in the fourth quarter to grab the lead and eventually the win.
The Pacers square off against Butler alum Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday night at 7 PM. Find Tickets »