The Grizzlies struggled to shake off the rust of the all-star break on Friday night. There were a number of reasons the Grizz were outmatched, but most of all they looked slow and stiff coming off of 9 days rest.
The Indiana Pacers were in desperation mode. They supposedly shopped around their superstar forward, who is outwardly upset about the way this season had progressed. The Pacers were streaking in the wrong direction, they had lost six in row dating back to February 8th. They had something to prove to their fans and played like a team that was trying to avoid continuing .500 type basketball.
They were outscored, outrebounded, and frankly outhustled. The Grizz won the first and fourth quarters, but the second quarter was the back breaker. The Pacers shot 51% to the Grizzlies 41%, and the Grizzlies struggled in just about every statistical category.
From the tip, Marc Gasol couldn’t find the range. He had a few turn-around fade-aways fall his way, but even lay ups seem to be a chore. The highlight offensively came late in the third quarter when Troy Daniels checked in for the first time. He played just 15 minutes but scored a team high 13 points on 3-7 from 3-point range, 4-10 overall.
Tony Allen hit a three but Mike Conley was 0-3 from deep, it was that kind of night. Conley, after I just praised his free throw shooting and leadership, was also 0-4 from the free throw line. Overall the Grizzlies shot 33% from distance and a truly terrible 56.5% from the free throw game. On the bright side, 6 players were in double figures, and Deyonta Davis even had one point.
Paul George, Superstar Status?
Remember when Paul George was going to go move to LA? Or maybe Boston? Oh wait, the Pacers were just kidding. The Indiana star has played well this season averaging 22 points and six rebounds a game. He raises that to 24 points a game in wins. The home fans love him (I was at this game, trust me, they love him), he has led them to a 21-10 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. But he truly struggled against the Tony Allen defensive clamps. He logged 34 minutes, shot 25% and scored just nine points. He did put together a good game in other ways, he contributed 9 rebounds and four assists.
The superstar status most comes from the praise he receives in the state of Indiana, and maybe from Fresno, California, but he has been inconsistent in playing to his potential. He is leading a team of average talent and a young Myles Turner who has a ton of upside. He is frustrated with the direction of the team, but he isn’t going anywhere. The Pacers will need to bring in more talent to build around him, and of course that didn’t happen over the all-star break, but it will be interesting to see where this team develops in the next few years.
The Good News
There weren’t many positive things to mention from this Friday night battle, but there is some good news. The Grizzlies have three games against three teams in the bottom of the Western Conference coming up. The Grizzlies travel to Denver on Sunday night, and follow that by hosting the Phoenix Suns on February 28. Dallas is next on March 3rd.
Dating back to before the all-star break, the Grizzlies are nursing a 2 game losing streak. That is nothing to be concerned about, but these next three games are a great stretch to get back on track. The month of March promises to be a challenging few weeks for the Grizz so carrying momentum from these next three can be huge for the match ups against Houston and the LA Clippers coming up soon.