INDIANAPOLIS — Eight straight wins are not enough for the perfect Pacers.
They have far bigger plans.
The NBA’s last unbeaten team remained undaunted Monday night, getting 23 points from Paul George and the first triple-double of Lance Stephenson’s career to run past Memphis 95-79 and complete a brutal five-game in seven-day stretch with a sweep.
Indiana extended its franchise-best start to 8-0, becoming the seventh team to achieve the feat since 2000 and the 18th team in league history to start a season 8-0, according to STATS.
“Everything we’re shooting for is attainable, but we’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do,” coach Frank Vogel said. “It was probably our most complete game.”
The Pacers made no secret of this season’s plan — dethroning two-time defending NBA champion Miami. The best way to do that, they figured, was earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and so far, nobody has been able to touch them. The Pacers already have a 31⁄2-game lead over Miami and Atlanta in the East.
Indiana is showing no sign of slowing down, either.
Rather than look fatigued after back-to-back wins last Tuesday and Wednesday and two more back-to-back wins Friday and Saturday, something Vogel said he had never been part of previously, the Pacers appeared to get stronger Monday.
They again dominated the glass, outrebounding Memphis 30-15 in the first half and finishing with a 45-32 advantage. They again relied on suffocating defense, which held Memphis (3-4) to a season-low point total and nearly 20 points below its season scoring average (98.5). And again they were content to share the honors.
George scored seven points during a key 9-3 stretch to close out the third quarter. That gave Indiana a 72-55 lead.
Stephenson, who is playing the best basketball of his career, finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, a career-high 12 assists and only one turnover. Roy Hibbert added five more blocks to his league-leading total (35), George Hill finished with 13 points in his third game back from a hip injury and Luis Scola added 12 points off the bench.