Memphis Grizzlies show they can ‘slowing the ball or running’ in small-ball transition

The Memphis Grizzlies have been going through some growing pains as they try to diversify their style – on Saturday night against Indiana they saw one of their best signs in the process yet.

Memphis Grizzlies centre Marc Gasol shown after his team's win over the Indiana Pacers in the NBA on Saturday night. Brandon Dill / AP / December 19, 2015
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Associated Press

Even as the Memphis Grizzlies transition into a small-ball style team, they realise defence is still the key to their success.

Memphis forced the Indiana Pacers into 17 turnovers and 39 per cent shooting in a 96-84 victory over in the NBA on Saturday night.

“I thought defensively, we were much more consistent, as we are supposed to be,” said centre Marc Gasol, who had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for Memphis. “We’re still not going to score 125 points a game, that I’m pretty sure of. Defensively, we need to do the things we’re supposed to do.”

Matt Barnes finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Conley added 20 points and eight assists as the Grizzlies snapped a two-game skid. Mario Chalmers had 12 points for Memphis and Jeff Green added 11.

“Guys are going to get used to it,” Conley said of the offensive transition that began five games ago. “We have enough talent in this locker room to win regardless of how we are playing – slowing the ball down or running in transition.”

Paul George led the Pacers with 29 points, despite going 8-of-22 from the field. Monta Ellis scored 13 points and Rodney Stuckey had 11. Jordan Hill finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The loss snapped Indiana’s three-game winning streak, and the 84 points were well under the Pacers’ average of 103.8 points, best in the Eastern Conference.

Memphis shot 45 per cent. Neither team shot well from outside the arc, Memphis converting 5-of-19, while the Pacers were 5-of-28 for 18 per cent – a season-low for Indiana on three-point percentage.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t play well enough in any area. We didn’t defend well enough, we didn’t run well enough, we didn’t cover for each other on the defensive end well enough.”

Memphis pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Indiana 26-18 as the Pacers converted only 5-of-15 shots in the period.

The Grizzlies, who at times have struggled in the third quarter, extended their 44-43 half-time lead to double digits this time. The advantage reached 12 points as Memphis connected on 50 per cent of their shots through the bulk of the quarter.

But Indiana put together a 14-4 rally to pull to 66-64 before Memphis managed to carry a 70-66 lead into the final period.

Memphis would build the lead back to double digits near the midway point of the fourth. The Pacers converted five straight free throws – four of them by George – to move closer at 88-80 - but could not cut the lead further.

“We had a lot of good open shots that just weren’t falling,” Ellis said. “I think it was more that our shots weren’t falling, and they made some plays.”

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