Just a handful of teams can claim they’ve entered FedExForum and escaped with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies this season.
Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, they can’t count themselves among those squads.
Despite boasting a double-digit halftime lead, the Pacers (24-28) were held to 38 points in the second half – the fewest points by the Blue & Gold in the second half of a game this season – in a 112-100 loss to the Grizzlies (32-18) on Sunday in Memphis.
The Pacers led 62-50 at halftime before being outscored 62-38 in the final 24 minutes. In the second half, the Pacers shot 38.9 percent from the field while the Grizzlies made 55.8 percent of their shots.
With the win, Memphis boosted its league-best home winning percentage by moving to 21-3 on their own floor while also snapping a five-game losing streak. Indiana has now lost three games in a row including nine straight on the road.
Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin had another impressive outing, finishing with 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Five players scored in double figures for the Pacers, with Aaron Nesmith (16), Myles Turner (15), Isaiah Jackson (13) and Andrew Nembhard (12) following Mathurin.
The Grizzles were anchored by 27 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds by point guard Ja Morant and 28 points and eight rebounds from Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant has five triple-doubles this season.
Indiana was outrebounded 41-38 in the game and outscored 66-46 in the paint.
“It’s a disappointing experience that we’re gonna need to learn from,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said, “and being able to sustain an effort like that in the first half into the second half on the road. It’s something that’s not easy to do because you know the other team is going to turn it up, make it more physical, challenge the referees to blow the whistle, all those kinds of things. So it’s got to be a lesson where we learn from it.”
The Pacers led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter and held a 62-50 advantage at intermission.
In the first quarter, the Grizzlies led 14-7 by making six of their first nine shots before the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, in part of five made free throws by Nesmith, to take their first lead at 16-14 with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
Indiana then stayed up thanks to some hot shooting by Mathurin, who scored nine points in the final 1:36 of the opening frame as the Pacers led 32-23 after 12 minutes of play.
Five points by Nembhard and three from Mathurin pushed the Pacers’ lead to 40-26 two minutes into the second quarter.
Two straight dunks by Isaiah Jackson – including a left-handed alley oop dunk – extended the lead to 56-37 with 4:30 left in the half before the Grizzlies got back into an offensive groove.
Memphis responded with a 9-2 run to cut it to 58-44 with 1:38 on the clock, but the Pacers stayed ahead by double digits thanks to two more made baskets by Nesmith down the stretch.
The Grizzlies were able to retake the lead in the third quarter by outscoring the Pacers 30-17.
Out of the break, Turner scored the team’s first six points to put the Pacers ahead 68-52 two minutes into the second half.
From 9:30 to 6:06 the Grizzlies went on a 14-0 run, and then extended the scoring stretch to 19-2, to tie the game at 70 with 4:35 left in the third quarter. Five different players recorded a basket during the scoring spree.
In the final 3:06, the teams continued to duke it out, but the Grizzlies took a 80-79 advantage into the final frame.
The Pacers made just one 3-pointer in the third quarter while shoot 6-for-18 overall in the period.
Memphis came out hot to start the fourth quarter, using a 13-2 run to go up 91-81 with 9:11 to play.
While Mathurin scored the first 12 points for the Pacers in the fourth quarter, the team trailed 99-91 with 6:13 remaining.
In the waning minutes, the Grizzlies answered every Pacers basket to come away with the win.
“The main thing for us was to stay locked-in on defense,” Mathurin said. “(The) defense was pretty bad in the second half. Rebounding and second shots really hurt us in the second half. I felt like that was a big reason we lost today.”
The Pacers will have a three-day break before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday before the Sacramento Kings come in on Friday.
Inside the Numbers
Mathurin has scored 20 or more points in five straight games, which is the longest streak of his young career. He has also scored 20 or more points in a game 22 times this season.
T.J. McConnell, who had averaged 16.1 points per game over the last 10 games, didn’t score a point in his 23 minutes of action. McConnell hasn’t scored in just three games he’s played in this season.
Nesmith went 7-for-7 from the free throw line which is the most free throws he’s ever made in a game.
The Pacers finished 19-for-21 from the free throw line after making all 12 attempts in the first half.
Indiana turned the ball over 12 times in the second half after having just five giveaways in the first half.
You Can Quote Me On That
“I thought from the very beginning when he went in he was a factor. He was getting deflections, blocks, rebounds. He’s putting pressure on the rim and he did a lot of good things he played well against his guys.” – Carlisle on Isaiah Jackson’s performance
“That’s nothing new. He’s a fearless guy. He’s a fearless player. He gets the ball in the basket.” — Calrisle on Mathurin
“We’ve got two really hot teams coming in this week with the (Los Angeles) Lakers and Sacramento (Kings). And that’ll be a great challenge for our defense. We’ve got two important practice days leading up to it.” – Carlisle on next week’s gams on Thursday and Friday
“I feel like the biggest difference was they just came out and played harder. They went on a little run and the crowd got into it, and I feel like it just went downward from there. It’s a good learning experience for not only me, but for the team – just learning how to close out games.” – Isaiah Jackson on the loss
“I pretty much just try to stay aggressive. I come into the game with the same mentality all the time. Whether I make shots or not I’m still going to be aggressive.” — Mathurin on his recent scoring
Stat of the Night
The Pacers, which have played well consistently in the later minutes of games, scored a season-worst 38 second-half points against the Grizzles. The previous low was 39 versus the Miami Heat on Nov. 4.
Hield hit one 3-pointer in the game. He is three short of becoming the third Pacer ever to make 200 treys in a season.
Memphis has won four straight games against Indiana.
Pacers star point guard Tyrese Haliburton missed a ninth straight game due to left knee and elbow sprains. He is expected to return in the beginning of February.
The Pacers welcome LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 PM ET.