INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 23 points and Lance Stephenson had the first triple-double of his career, leading the perfect Indiana Pacers to a 95-79 victory Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Indiana became the NBA’s seventh team to open 8-0 since 2000 — two more wins than the franchise’s previous best start. And they followed a familiar script in the battle between last season’s conference runner-ups by dominating the glass, dominating the second half and divvying up top honors.
Stephenson finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists. George Hill scored 13 points and Roy Hibbert added five more blocks to his NBA-leading total.
Memphis was led by Marc Gasol with 15 points and Zach Randolph with 12.
Indiana took control with a 13-3 run that started late in the third quarter and ended with the Pacers holding a 78-55 lead early in the fourth.
It was a frustrating night for the Grizzlies, who were well below their season average of 98.5 points and had the league’s top-scoring offense in the fourth quarter. Instead, they left with a season-low point total. Their previous low (84) came last week against New Orleans.
But for the Pacers, the 18th team in NBA history to open the season with eight straight wins, according to STATS, this season — and this night — couldn’t have gone any better.
They came into the season talking openly about challenging two-time defending NBA champ Miami for the Eastern Conference title and to do that, the Pacers said they needed to earn the No. 1 seed. Monday’s win gives them a 3-game lead over the Heat, and instead of slowing down, the Pacers seem to be hitting their stride after winning five times in seven days.
They went into the game allowing a league-low 85.3 points per game and with the No. 1 defensive field goal percentage (38.9) in the league, too. That won’t change much after the Grizzlies shot 41.3 percent.
Indiana had twice as many rebounds as Memphis at halftime (30-15) and finished with a 45-32 advantage.
The Pacers jumped to a 13-8 lead in the opening minutes, scored the final six points of the first quarter to make it 23-16 and then methodically pulled away in the second. When Luis Scola knocked down an 18-footer with 6:31 left in the half, the Pacers led 35-24.
Memphis closed to 46-39 at halftime, but the Pacers opened the second half on a 7-2 run to rebuild a 12-point lead and they put it away with the 13-3 spurt that expanded the lead to 23.
Indiana now gets a three-day break before playing another back-to-back — hosting Milwaukee on Friday and visiting Chicago on Saturday.
Grizzlies forward Quincy Poindexter left in the second quarter and was diagnosed with a fractured nose. He did not return.