Posted December 30, 2012 on AP on Fox
If the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers live up to their reputations, points may be hard to come by Monday when the NBA's top two defensive teams meet in Indianapolis. Memphis (19-8) ranks first in the league allowing an average of 90.1 points and improved to 12-2 when holding opponents below 43.0 percent shooting after beating Denver 81-72 on Saturday. The Grizzlies, who have given up more than 100 points only twice, ended a two-game skid that included a dismal 121-96 loss to Houston on Dec. 22 that marked their worst defensive performance points-wise over the last two seasons. ''It was just important to get a win,'' coach Lionel Hollins said. "We had lost two in a row, and we needed to get back to playing our game.'' Memphis also hasn't scored 100 points while going 6-5 over its last 11, though Rudy Gay helped break open a tight contest by scoring eight of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter Saturday. Gay is averaging 27.3 points over his last three games versus the Pacers. "He carried us down the stretch and made big boy baskets down the stretch," Tony Allen said of Gay. "It's a great team win. Hopefully, we can take some of these things and carry it over into the next game." Indiana (17-13) is among the league's worst offenses, averaging only 92.0 points, but it ranks just behind Memphis giving up 90.5 points per game. It held the top spot before setting a season-worst for points allowed in Saturday's 109-100 loss at Atlanta that ended a four-game winning streak. The Pacers fell to 2-8 when allowing at least 96 points and had given up an average of 85.0 while winning eight of their previous nine. "We can say all we want that we're the best defensive team in the league, but until we get some great wins against some good teams, none of that matters," said George Hill, who has totaled 37 points while hitting 66.7 percent of his shots over his last two games. "Everybody has to man up and see how they can contribute to making this team better." David West scored a game-high 29 points Saturday and is averaging 18.8 points lifetime versus the Grizzlies - his second-best average against any team. He netted 22 in the Pacers' 98-92 loss to Memphis on Feb. 10 in the most recent meeting, their fifth straight defeat in the series. The Grizzlies have scored at least 98 points in 11 of the last 12 meetings and hope to get another solid performance from Zach Randolph, who is averaging 23.4 points and 13.8 rebounds during his eight-game double-double streak versus Indiana. The Pacers, meanwhile, likely will be looking for a bigger contribution from Roy Hibbert, who has totaled 14 points while shooting 31.6 percent over his last three games. Hibbert, who is shooting only 24.0 percent of his last three games versus Memphis, missed both of his shot attempts Saturday and sat the entire fourth quarter. "Roy has great heart and gives great effort, but he didn't have it," coach Frank Vogel said. Paul George, averaging 20.1 points over his last 13 games, has hit only 4 of his 21 shots (19.0 percent) while scoring 14 points over two career games versus the Grizzlies.
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