By Jon R. LaFollette (@JonFilet)
The Pacers continued their record-setting win streak Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 95-79 and remaining the NBA’s lone unbeaten team at 8-0.
Lance Stephenson recorded his first career triple double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
While six of Indiana’s last seven games have seen the team rally from halftime deficits, struggle with ball handling and overcome bouts of offensive inefficiencies, Monday marked their most complete victory in this young season.
Indy’s vaunted defense held Memphis to less than forty percent shooting for much of the game, and the Pacers outrebounded the Grizzlies 45-32.
Roy Hibbert, the league’s leading shot blocker, collected five swats on the evening bringing his season total to 35.
The team’s offensive attack was led by Paul George with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting – including a 13-point third quarter.
The bench, who were given extended minutes in the blowout win, continued to look like an obvious improvement over last year’s beleaguered squad. Luis Scola scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds while Ian Mahinmi, who scored 10, went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
The slow-moving Grizzlies had no answer for the quicker, more athletic, Pacers who took control early and never looked back.
While Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Marion, Indiana native Zach Randolph have been one of the NBA’s formidable frontcourt pairings the last few seasons, the team’s glaring weak spot is their lack of outside shooting – they were last in the league in three point attempts a season ago.
Monday night was no exception. Though the Grizzlies shot 50 percent from long range, they did so on a measly eight attempts.
One dimensional and predictable, Memphis’ all-layups-all-the-time game plan couldn’t keep up with Indiana’s dynamic offensive attack – or compete with Hibbert’s league-best protection at the rim – where he holds opponents to a suffocating 32 percent.
Random Notes: Lance Stephenson was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter when he waved the ball in Tony Allen’s face. You can take the street baller out of the street, but you can’t take the street out of the street baller.
Stephenson also put a mean spin move on Allen – badly breaking his ankles and his pride – and had the guts to brag about it on Instagram. Stay swaggie, Swaggie Steve.