Memphis snapped a six-game skid its last time out, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road Sunday despite playing short-handed.
The Grizzlies were without rookie Ja Morant, leading the way this season with 18.6 points and 6.4 assists per game. Morant crashed into a photographer during Memphis' 126-114 loss to this same Pacers bunch on Nov. 25, and despite avoiding serious injury, he missed Sunday's game with back spasms.
"If I play, I'm playing. I can't control my minutes or anything," Morant told reporters the day following his crash in Indiana.
The initial plan of Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins was not to reduce Morant's minutes, as he played Wednesday and Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. Sunday marked Morant's first absence in a situation the team will monitor over the coming weeks.
Indiana's win over Memphis a week ago was the middle of a five-game winning streak, which ended in the Pacers' most recent game. They fell in the final minute to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, 119-116, when Ben Simmons made a critical steal that led to a score late.
"You can't beat teams ... when you have (19) turnovers. You just can't," Pacers coach Nate McMillan told reporters after the game.
The loss in Philadelphia was the second leg of a back-to-back for Indiana, which won in overtime over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. In contrast with Saturday, Indiana committed four fewer turnovers despite the extra frame against Atlanta.
A common thread in both contests was the play of T.J. Warren. Since scoring just two points against Orlando on Nov. 23, he's been on a tear, averaging 23.5 over the last four.
Warren's 29 points in Philadelphia marked his second-highest output of the season. He scored 26 in the previous meeting with Memphis. And although his 16 against Atlanta was Warren's lowest point total of the current stretch, he hit what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime.
The Pacers continue to play without All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who McMillan recently told reporters would remain practicing with G-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
While Indiana has had months to adjust its lineup without Oladipo, dating back to the quadriceps tear last January, Memphis' experimentation with the lineup sans Morant is new.
Initial results went well, with De'Anthony Melton and Bruno Caboclo seeing the most action they have all season. Caboclo delivered with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Melton had an outstanding all-around game with nine points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Solomon Hill and Grayson Allen also played prominent minutes off the bench. Allen's been integrating more into the lineup since returning from an ankle injury sustained early in November.
Allen made 3 of 6 3-pointers against Minnesota, answering his coach's call for more consistent scoring production from the second-year guard.
--Field Level Media