Gay, Grizzlies hand Pacers 8th straight loss
By CLIFF BRUNT
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
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
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