Memphis Grizzlies Chandler Parsons Delights Fans With Ticket Giveaway For Home Opener

Memphis Grizzlies Chandler Parsons Delights Fans With Ticket Giveaway For Home Opener
Evans Making Fast Friends in Indiana
Tyreke Evans wore a red baseball cap to the Pacers season-opener on Wednesday, with a curious message on the crown:

It seemed inappropriate for a player whos found instant chemistry and contentment with a blue and yellow team, so it was enough to make one wonder if there was a hidden meaning.

3 takeaways from the Indiana Pacers opening night win

Count that as the only ill-fitting moment for Evans related to the Pacers season-opening victory over Memphis on Wednesday. Coming off the bench, he contributed 14 points, six assists, four rebounds and just one turnover in his 23 ½ minutes.

MT: Yeah, thats definitely not always the case. With our culture, it didnt happen overnight. I think the guys just really want to be here and love being part of this team. We all got along so well last year at the start of training camp and it boiled over into the rest of the season and into this year. Whenever you can have that, its huge. We all get along and we love being together every day. Ive been on teams in the past where we wouldnt hang out off the floor. We may have gone out to dinner sometimes if we were on a road trip, but it wasnt like this. Now, were always hanging out, were going shopping together and things like that. Were just constantly around each other. With that, everyone gets to know each other better and its great.

Video: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers | Full Highlights – 10/17/18

More than that, he provided several ah-hah moments that no doubt made some new friends within Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He put it out there for all to see, making the sort of instinctive plays that result from honing your game on a playground rather than a basketball camp.

“Ive always admired his game from afar, just seeing some of the things he can do,” Thad Young said following Thursdays practice at St. Vincent Center. “He has a great ability to make guys around him better. Hes grown and matured over the course of his career and hes been able to make sure guys are involved in the game.”

MT: It was a lot of dedication, and it definitely took a team of people to make that happen. But, more than anything, it was a lot of work. I did this because there was a point last season when I just felt dead out there on the court – I felt so drained and I wasnt myself. I knew a lot of that was due to my eating habits and me not taking care of my body as well as I shouldve been. I think the biggest was just me wanting the best for myself, and my team obviously wanted whats best for me too. Once we got to the point where we started putting together a plan and we knew I had to make some big changes, we realized it was something that had to be done over the offseason. Then, we just executed the plan.

Video: Grizzlies hit 5 three-pointers in the 2nd Quarter vs. Indiana Pacers

While the Pacers had an effective pick-and-roll tandem with Lance Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis last season, the Evans-Sabonis pairing could be an upgrade, based on the micro sample size of Game 1. Like Stephenson, Evans has the size to see over defenses and the knack of getting a pass through traffic. Unlike Stephenson, he doesnt attempt a crowd-pleasing flair while doing so.

MT: Vics confidence is contagious, man. His confidence in himself and his confidence all throughout last season really helped us get through a lot. I mean, Ive never seen Vic in a bad mood. Never. His winning attitude and confidence and all that stuff is really contagious and everyone is ready to fall in line with him. With that being said, Vic is also really good at being able to flip that switch too. Hes this goofy person whos really fun to be around, but then once he gets on the floor? Everything changes and if youre competing against him, he wants to rip your heart out.

Flair, in fact, has no part in his persona, either on the court or off. While hardly friendless, and always pleasant, he tends to keep to himself and speak through his actions. His summation of his performance on Wednesday?

MT: I think it is , but theyd have to be willing to fall in line with the culture. Thats the biggest thing. It would have to be someone who understands that this is something thats bigger than just themselves. This is about the organization, about the city and about this team. It cant be about individual contracts or guys money or anything. We all come together and fight for each other. If theyre willing to be a part of that, then yeah, this is a great place to be. But some people cant fall in line with the culture.

“Tyreke averaged 19 points last year (for Memphis) so everybody has to respect him,” Sabonis said. “That makes it easier for me to screen his man and then he makes his decision.

Indiana Pacers bench upgrades on display in win over Memphis Grizzlies

Evans might present a blasé demeanor, but hes clearly excited about having an essential role with the Pacers. And why not? Hes got a total of four playoff games to his credit, from his brief time with New Orleans in 2015. Hes not accustomed to winning, and not accustomed to positive team cultures.

I think we could see a star free agent join the Pacers at some point in the next few years, just because of the amazing culture, the talented core and the chance to contend. It would surprise everyone, but I can see it happening. It would sort of be like when Greg Monroe spurned the big markets to join Milwaukee (but obviously that didnt turn out so great). I mean, were already seeing guys like Tyreke Evans choose Indiana over a ton of other teams. Is it realistic to think you guys can attract a star?

The moment when Sabonis picked him up off the court midway through the fourth quarter meant something to him. Hes on his fifth stop in his 10th NBA season, and never experienced that brand of school spirit.

Evans impressed in his Pacers debut, scoring 14 points and dishing six assists (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

“Theres a big-time difference,” he said. “Just the energy we have as a team. Were always helping one another, picking one another up.

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“The organization is just amazing. Its one of the best organizations Ive ever played for, just the things they do and how they do it. Everythings a team thing and its about the players. Its definitely the best organization Ive been with.”

One asset the Indiana Pacers bench can leverage this season is size. While Joseph is 6’3, McDermott, Evans, and Sabonis are over the 6’6 mark. While Evans or McDermott aren’t great defenders, they aren’t giving up size to their opponents. It helps too that both aren’t slow on their feet, either.

Tyreke Evans looks like exactly what the Pacers needed

Evans arrived in the NBA from a different avenue than most players coming into the league these days. While most have been coached in school and AAU programs and often have been tutored by specialists, Evans game evolved from the asphalt and the lessons he learned from his older brothers.

One of them, Eric, who played point guard for Cheyney State, taught him about ballhandling in traffic and how to react in the open court. “Making me crafty, playing east and west,” Evans says. “When I get the ball I try to make the defense work. If they cut one way I try to go another.”

If Evans and McDermott continue to contribute, the game opens up for everyone as we saw on Wednesday. No one player is required to carry the weight by themselves. In a game where Victor Oladipo struggled early on, the reserves were building a lead and allowing him to rest.

Another brother, Julius, described as a playground star in their hometown of Chester, Pa., worked with him on shooting, a late-arriving feature of Evans game.

So hes been coached, but he does things that arent taught in the traditional coaching environments. Especially the things that can be done in the open court or in pick-and-roll situations.

Sabonis and Evans ran the pick and roll heavily to get possessions rolling and set up their teammates. Domas displayed the basketball IQ he is known for by switching up picks when the Grizzlies were aggressive and finding space to do his damage when given it.

“Hes like a great running back in football, able to plant his feet and change direction and avoid people,” legendary coach Bob Hurley from St. Anthony High School in New Jersey told The New York Times when Evans was in high school.

It is only one game of course, but the Pacers are seeing what they expected from their bench upgrades. There are plenty of challenges ahead for Indiana to work out, of course, but Indiana got what it wanted and needed from their offseason signing.

Like many players who evolved from the playgrounds, Evans has a reputation as a “gamer,” a player who doesnt take practice as seriously as a coach might like but rises to the occasion when the lights come on. He doesnt deny it.

“Definitely,” he said. “Practice is not really my thing. When the lights come on, thats when I really come out and play.

Pacers bench leads the way in blowout opening win over Grizzlies

“I still go hard and play the right way (in practice), but when the game is on it counts more so Im more active.”

Bogdanovic scores 19 points, Pacers rout Grizzlies 111-83 – Indiana Pacers

Pacers coach Nate McMillan smiled skeptically when Evans admission was presented following Thursdays practice.

Told yes, McMillan talked of the need to practice hard all the time, the mistake of thinking you can “flip the switch” and play better in games than in practice.

McMillan can afford to be patient, and even forgiving In Evans he has the ideal first guard of the bench, one who can play three positions and play with anybody because of his multiple skills. Evans stands 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He weighs five pounds more than 6-foot-8 Bojan Bogdanovic, the same as 6-8 Young and only about five pounds less than 6-10 TJ Leaf and 6-8 Doug McDermott.

Evans can overpower smaller defenders and beat the taller defenders off the dribble. He can find open teammates more easily because of his height and finish around the basket in traffic because of his bulk, as he displayed on Wednesday.

Besides, he appears to be conforming to his new environment. While he didnt stand out in the four preseason games and wasnt talked about much during training camp, some people who watched every practice claim he had been the best player. The way to make friends in any environment is to fit in, and Evans is doing that by playing harder in practice and doing the dirty work in games.

“The knock on him was that he doesnt play defense,” Young said. “But in training camp, once we explained to him what our culture was, he was all for it. The biggest thing for him, and a lot of guys who come to a team with a different culture, when they see the four guys theyre playing with playing defense and getting after it as hard as they can, it makes them want to help their teammates.

Young and Victor Oladipo were voted captains by the players on Monday. Oladipos selection wasnt surprising, because he won the Backbone Award selected by players after last season for his positive attitude and had organized an off-season workout in Miami.

Game Rewind: Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83

Young, though, is much quieter and less prominent than Oladipo. His selection was less obvious but equally telling.

Pacers get best TV rating for a season opener since 2005

“It just says a lot about my character and professionalism,” he said. “Id say Im well-respected by a lot of guys around the league, and my teammates definitely showed it. Im very happy and enthused.

“I just try to lead by example, which is through my play on the court. When something needs to be said, I say it. You have some people who say stuff to say stuff. I dont say stuff to say stuff. I say stuff when it needs to be said. And I get guys to believe in what we do.”

Pacers rout Memphis 111-83 to kick off season

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Road Recap: Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83

Mark Montieths book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, “Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis,” is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

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