(SportsNetwork.com) – Two of the league’s best defensive teams last season
square off in Game 2 of this season Friday night when the Indiana Pacers host
the Memphis Grizzlies at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers and Grizzlies finished second and third in opponents’ scoring for
the 2013-14 campaign. Both squads opened this season with victories, although
both were against inferior competition.
Indiana started the 2014-15 odyssey with a 103-91 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. With Paul George most likely gone for the
season, the Pacers set out on this 82-game test without David West, George
Hill and C.J. Watson. All three are expected to miss Friday’s contest with
their litany of injuries.
Roy Hibbert led the way for the Pacers with 22 points, eight rebounds and
seven blocked shots. Donald Sloan, who replaced Hill in the starting lineup,
and Rodney Stuckey, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, both finished
with 16. Sloan added 10 rebounds.
C.J. Miles added 15, followed by 11 from Chris Copeland and 10 out of Luis
“I think we started slow, which is to be expected with the new faces,” said
head coach Frank Vogel. “I thought it might happen. The bench came in and
stabilized things. Then the starters had a great second half. It wasn’t
perfect. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a positive first step.”
Memphis got its season off on a positive note with a 105-101 home victory over
the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. That was the Grizzlies’ first
season-opening victory since moving to Memphis and ended a bizarre, 13-game
slide in first contests of the campaign.
“First game is out of the way, now we can look at film and see ways we can
improve,” said Tony Allen. “We have a lot of improving to do; obviously
executing on the defensive end. I felt there were a lot of times we could have
closed them out and increased the lead. I thought we let our guard down.”
Marc Gasol had a career-high 32 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two
blocks in the win.
Zach Randolph added 25 points and 13 boards for the Grizzlies, who shot 52.4
percent from the floor. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee tallied 16 and 14 points,
Memphis’ defense was a little lacking at times. The team nearly squandered a
seven-point lead after three quarters and allowed the Wolves to shoot 50
percent from beyond the arc.
The Grizzlies’ starters all played at least 33 minutes on Wednesday and the
bench combined for 10 points.
The teams split last season’s two meetings with the home team holding court.
Memphis’ win at home in March ended a three-game series losing streak.