Gay, Grizzlies hand Pacers 8th straight loss

By CLIFF BRUNT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Pacers

are showing signs of falling apart. They just hope their injured

players heal and their morale improves before it’s too late.

Rudy Gay scored 31 points to lead the

Memphis Grizzlies over Indiana 121-110 on Wednesday night, the Pacers’

eighth straight loss. Zach Randolph had 28 points and 13 rebounds, and

Marc Gasol added 21 points and 10 boards for the Grizzlies.

Indiana already have been missing

2009 All-Star Danny Granger and center Jeff Foster due to injuries. The

Pacers played the Grizzlies without forward Troy Murphy because of a

sprained ankle and Tyler Hansbrough because of an inner-ear infection.

Forward Dahntay Jones said there’s more to the problems than just injuries.

“We have to assess ourselves and be

honest,” he said. “Certain people are not fighting as hard as others.

We have to find a way to bring it every night.”

Jones said the team needs to get fresh attitudes to go with fresh bodies.

“Chemistry is a problem right now, but we’ve got to find five guys to play hard together on a consistent basis.”

The injuries have made it difficult for the Pacers to find a rhythm.

“We’ve got to find a way to get on

the same page,” said Pacers guard Luther Head, who tied a career high

with 30 points. “I think we are going to do that when everybody gets

healthy.”

Memphis improved to 9-4 in December. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said he doesn’t take any victory for granted.

“They’re struggling right now,

especially with health issues,” Hollins said. “We’re happy to get away

with a win. We want to keep getting better and play as well as we can,

regardless of the opponent.”

The Pacers had struggled on offense

in recent games, but this time struggled to defend. Memphis shot 51

percent from the field and outscored the Pacers 29-17 from the free

throw line. Roy Hibbert scored a career-best 25 points and grabbed 13

rebounds, and Brandon Rush added 15 points for Indiana.

Memphis point guard Jamaal Tinsley

made this loss more bitter for the fans in his first game in Indiana

since the Pacers waived him this past summer.

Tinsley started his pro career with

Indiana in 2001 and remained with the Pacers until July. He left the

franchise with career averages of 10.4 points and 7.0 assists, but was

better known for being injured or in legal trouble during his stay. The

Pacers told him not to report to training camp last season and did not

allow him to play. The NBA players’ union filed a grievance for him in

February, but the arbitration hearing was canceled when the Pacers

waived him.

Pacers fans who remembered showered

him with boos when he entered the game late in the first quarter. He

scored three points in 15 minutes for Memphis.

Tinsley expected a rude reception.

“It was like that when I was here,”

he said before the game. “I’ll play through it. They can’t break me. At

the end of the day, I go out there and do my job.”

Tinsley shook off the crowd’s

response and made his first shot, a 3-pointer that got a friendly

bounce with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. It was the only

field goal he made.

Memphis led 68-51 at halftime and

extended its lead to 20 points before the Pacers cut their deficit to

84-70 in the third quarter. The Grizzlies regrouped and led 93-79 at

the end of the period, despite Hibbert’s 12-point quarter.

Head made back-to-back 3-pointers to

cut Memphis’ lead to 111-101 with just over 4 minutes to play, but the

Pacers never trimmed their deficit below 10 points.

Head, who scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, said the team consistently has found ways to break down early.

“We dig ourselves so big of a hole that when we start making a run, it’s too little, too late.”

Pacers coach Jim O’Brien acknowledged that things aren’t going well.

“Guys are disappointed,” he said. “The whole organization is disappointed with where we are right now.”

NOTES: The Pacers shot 62 percent in

the first quarter and still trailed 35-29 at the end of the period. …

The Pacers had only 10 available players. … Pacers F Solomon Jones

scored four points in 13 minutes in his second start. … Indianapolis

native Mike Conley had 13 points and seven assists for the Grizzlies.

… Memphis improved to 13-7 when Tinsley plays.

Updated December 30, 2009