Grizzlies 98, Pacers 92

Strong play by the Memphis reserves early in the fourth period

gave the Grizzlies a burst of energy down the stretch.

The Memphis bench stayed even with the Indiana Pacers during the

early stages of the final period, giving the Grizzlies starters the

extra stamina for a 98-92 victory on Friday night.

Rudy Gay scored 21 points, while Marreese Speights added a

season-high 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Grizzlies.

But the postgame accolades went to the Memphis reserves.

Mike Conley, who along with Marc Gasol had 15 points apiece,

said the bench play gave the Memphis starters better legs as they

pulled away at the end.

”They let me and Marc rest until basically the five-minute mark

of the fourth quarter,” Conley said.

”They actually extended the lead when they were out there.

That’s what we need out of them. When you have that kind of output

from the bench, that makes it easier on the starters coming in to

sustain that lead.”

O.J. Mayo added 13 points for Memphis, which won its second

straight.

David West led the Pacers with 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting

from the field and 13 rebounds. Danny Granger had 19 points, and

Dahntay Jones added 10 as a reserve, primarily on 7 of 8 from the

free throw line.

The teams were tied at 86 with 4:30 left, but Memphis outscored

Indiana 12-6 the rest of the way, including converting 10 of 12

free throws down the stretch.

Conley credited the extra rest the starters got before entering

in the fourth quarter.

”It gives you a little more energy and you are able to play

harder for a longer period of time,” Conley said. ”The most

important time is the fourth quarter. The last 4 or 5 minutes of

the game is where it’s crunch time and you have to make the right

decisions. Having your legs is a big part of that.”

Indiana controlled the boards 48-37, including 16 offensive

rebounds, helping the Pacers to 17 second-chance points.

But Indiana committed 15 turnovers and shot only 39 percent,

including Paul George missing 11 of his 13 shots, and Roy Hibbert

going 1 for 7.

”The biggest difference was the willingness to win,” Pacers

guard Darren Collison said. ”They had a little bit more will than

us. They wanted it more, and that’s something we just can’t

have.”

The halftime score of 47-47 was representative of a first half

that had 11 lead changes and 12 ties.

Memphis held an early seven-point lead, but once the Pacers

pulled back into it, the game settled into a tight matchup. The

Pacers’ biggest lead of the half was five points.

Granger had 11 points and West 10 to lead Indiana. Speights had

14 points, hitting 6 of his 8 shots in the half, finishing the

night 8 of 13.

As he has in recent games, Speights, acquired from Philadelphia

in a three-team trade Jan. 4, provided the early spark.

”I know all the games are going to start off like that,”

Speights said. ”I just go out there with a little more energy and

try to get on the boards early and start the momentum.”

Neither team shot particularly well, and the Pacers might have

extended their advantage a little more in the half, but they were

an uncharacteristic 11 of 21 from the free throw line, part of

Indiana going 26 for 37.

”I think that was a big reason we lost the game honestly,”

Granger said of the missed first-half free throws. ”… We should

have been up eight or seven or six or five going into halftime if

we make half of those.”

Eight turnovers compared to three by Memphis didn’t help Indiana

either.

West already had nine rebounds and George eight rebounds as the

Pacers held a 28-19 advantage on the glass, including nine

offensive rebounds leading to 12 second-chance points.

The game remained close in the third was tied at 73 heading into

the fourth.

The teams were still even at 77 when Memphis scored nine

unanswered points for its biggest lead of the game, 86-77 on Gay’s

3-point play with 7:04 left.

Indiana answered with a 9-0 run to make it 86-86, the 17th tie

of the game.

”It took defense. It’s always about defense,” Gasol said. ”We

had key stops and key rebounds and we were able to make shots and

our free throws.”

Notes: The game featured of matchup of All-Star centers Gasol

and Hibbert, both of whom were selected as reserves. … Memphis G

Tony Allen returned after missing three games with a sore hip and

knee. … Pacers F/C Jeff Foster returned after missing 13 games

with a sore lower back. … Memphis F Dante Cunningham was ejected

in the third quarter after getting a pair of technicals for arguing

two different foul calls. … Memphis has four straight wins in the

series. … The loss was the first time this season Indiana has

lost consecutive games. The Pacers were coming off a 97-87 loss at

Atlanta on Wednesday.