After an eventful (on Twitter anyway) trade deadline, the Pacers returned home after the All Star break with an un-changed team to play the Memphis Grizzlies and won by a final score of 102-92 as they ended their six-game losing streak.
Pacers fans showered superstar Paul George with cheers during his introduction, showing how glad they to see him still in a Pacers uniform.
George heard the extra cheers during introductions and appreciated hearing it from the fans.
George still was in a bit of a shooting slump as he made only 3 of 12 shots for nine points and added nine rebounds, but tonight it didn’t matter.
Thaddeus Young made his return to the lineup as well after missing eight games with a wrist injury, and man were the Pacers glad to see him back. His energy and hustle were a big difference maker that the team had missed during the losing streak. He finished the game with 10 points on 5-7 shooting with five rebounds, a block and a steal.
The game was close early but the Pacers took control in the second quarter and snapped their 6-game losing streak against the #6 seed in the West.
After the game was tied at 29 – 29, the Pacers pulled ahead and led by 27 points at one point and never trailed again. They won the second and third quarters by a combined score of 64-42.
The biggest surprise/revelation of the game: the bench and defense. The Pacers bench scored 44 points tonight, led by Monta Ellis with 16 points and Lavoy Allen with a double double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers defense held the Grizzlies to 41.7% from the floor while shooting 51.3% themselves.
The stellar bench play started with Rakeem Christmas, who had only played 23 minutes his entire season. Christmas came off the bench due to Al Jefferson being a late scratch due to ‘dental pain.’ Christmas played well in his 13 minutes, rolling to the basket (something the Pacers bigs are lacking) and attacking for rebounds.
Even though Rakeem only had four points and five rebounds, he was very active with his time of the floor. He’s still got to control his fouling issues, but he was a big boost to the second unit.
On a night when the top scorer was CJ Miles with 17 points, the bench play was a great boost. Maybe the Pacers didn’t need to trade anyone and just needed a kick in the pants (aka trade rumors) to get things rolling.
On the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies never established a game plan. Their leading scorer was Troy Daniels with 13 points. Outside of the occasional flash of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, or Vince Carter, they didn’t seem to have the firepower tonight to overcome the Pacers.
Jeff Teague added a double double of 10 points and 10 assists. Myles Turner added 12 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
The Pacers play again tomorrow night against the Miami Heat who are sitting in 10th in the East right now. This will be game one of a 5-game road trip for the Pacers. Miami is 8-2 in their last 10 and one of the hottest teams in the league. Hopefully the Pacers came come out and play a similar game plan Saturday night in Miami.
The Pacers win tonight clinches a Pacers winning home-record for the 28th straight season, which is the longest streak in the NBA.
This was the fourth Hickory Night of the season. A Hickory Night that had lots of Indiana High School history on the floor. For Memphis – Mike Conley (Lawrence North HS) & Zach Randolph (Marion HS) for the Pacers – Jeff Teague (Pike HS) & Glenn Robinson III (Lake Central HS).
George also introduced these shoes. (Count me as 1st in line once these come out):