INDIANAPOLIS — For those who grow up playing basketball in the Hoosier State, the popular saying, “In 49 other states, it’s only basketball, but this is Indiana,” is taken quite seriously.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, an Indianapolis native, has a star next to every trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Indiana Pacers, and forward Zach Randolph, who grew up in Marion, Ind., needed 50 tickets for Friday night’s game against the Pacers.
Native Hoosiers Randolph and Conley did not disappoint Friday night, leading Memphis to a 97-89 victory against Indiana.
Randolph scored 11 third-quarter points, and Conley, who added seven in the period, were the pivotal pieces in a 33-14, game-changing quarter.
A bank shot by center Roy Hibbert with 9:11 remaining in the third quarter pushed the Pacers into a 61-48 lead, but Memphis countered with an eye-opening 30-6 burst that gave the Grizzlies a 78-67 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Memphis (2-0) outrebounded Indiana 14-12 in the deciding third quarter, with Randolph getting six in that period. The Grizzlies franchise is 2-0 for the first time since the 2000-2001 season.
Conley, who won three high school state championships in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Randolph, who also has played many times at the Pacers’ home venue, continued to lead the way in the fourth quarter.
A Conley 3-pointer with 3:16 remaining extended the Memphis lead to 93-80.
Randolph finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Conley added 17 points. Center Marc Gasol added 20 for the Grizzlies.
“That big third quarter was all defense for us,” said Conley, who also four assists and two rebounds. “The first half, we had a mixture of our shots not falling and us not getting the stops when we needed them. In the third quarter, me and Zach finally got to see the ball go in the hole.
“For me, Zach and Courtney Lee, this is home. For us to come back and win in front of the family and friends always is awesome. This is the game we always star on the schedule, so this is a big win.”
Thanks to teammates and the coaching staff — each player is given two tickets to NBA road games — Randolph was able to meet his 50-ticket demand on Friday night.
“In the third quarter, we started playing defense and started getting stops,” Randolph said. “We got off to a good start, and then they made a run. We just kept fighting. It always is fun to come back here, even though we only come in once a season because of the conference differences.”
For Grizzlies coach David Joerger, the third-quarter swing centered on his team being more aggressive.
“I think we challenged them a little more in the second half,” Joerger said. “They weren’t able to get up as many shots in the second half.”
Forward Chris Copeland led Indiana (1-1) with 16 points.
While the start left a lot to be desired — six turnovers in five minutes and two early fouls against Hibbert — the Pacers withstood an early 21-10 deficit and used strong play from their non-starters to change the game’s momentum.
Indiana outscored the Grizzlies 34-22 in the second quarter, making 14 of 21 field-goal attempts, including four of six from 3-point range. Non-starter Damjan Rudez, a forward, made all three of his 3-point attempts in the second period.
The Pacers also outrebounded Memphis 11-5 in the second quarter. Through two quarters, the Pacers’ non-starters outscored Memphis’ reserves 30-12, with Copeland matching Rudez with nine.
Memphis also was hampered when starting guard and Indianapolis Pike High School graduate Lee was lost with a mild concussion late in the second quarter when he fell to the floor and was hit in the back of the head by a Hibbert knee. Lee had 12 points and four assists before being injured.
Indiana made 21 of 39 first-half field-goal attempts (53.8 percent) while Memphis was 17 of 38 from the field (44.7 percent) during the first 24 minutes.
“Our starters struggled,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We will have to look at that and see if we need a change. We also should be able to do better than 18 turnovers. I thought we played well except for the first six minutes and then all of the third quarter.”
The Pacers outrebounded the Grizzlies 25-15 in the first two quarters.
NOTES: The Pacers continue to be shorthanded with probable starters F David West (sprained right ankle) and G George Hill (strained left knee) expected to miss at least three games, and in Hill’s case, three weeks. … Pacers G Rodney Stuckey also is hobbled with a sore left foot but played against Memphis. … The Pacers and Grizzlies split last season’s series 1-1, with Indiana winning in Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Memphis winning at home. … The Pacers lead the all-time series 24-13, including 14-4 in games played in Indianapolis. … Indiana defeated Philadelphia on Wednesday in its regular-season opener, and Memphis opened with a victory against Minnesota on Wednesday.
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