He ended up doing some heavy lifting.
Ford, whose availability was a game-time decision because of the flu, scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers beat the Grizzlies 104-99 on Wednesday night.
Ford, who didn't start, played all but 24 seconds in the final quarter. It was quite an effort for someone who said he hasn't been eating.
"I just tried to come out and give my teammates something," he said. "I wasn't looking forward to playing as many minutes as I did, but I'm just glad I was able to help them in some kind of way, some kind of form."
His effort was just another example of a player excelling since All-Star forward Danny Granger went down with a torn tendon in his right foot. The Pacers have won three of four without their leading scorer, who averages 25 points per game.
"It's opportunities for a lot of people," Ford said. "A lot of people have to make up the scoring. Everybody understands what the task is and how we have to play to get wins. I think we've definitely been showcasing it."
Jarrett Jack also has played well lately for the Pacers. He scored 20 points against the Grizzlies after putting up a career-high 33 at New York on Monday.
Brandon Rush and Marquis Daniels each scored 14 points and Troy Murphy had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers.
Memphis' Rudy Gay missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that would have tied the score.
Marc Gasol had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and rookie O.J. Mayo added 21 points for Memphis, which lost its sixth straight.
The Pacers made 11 of 23 3-pointers and won, despite committing 20 turnovers and allowing the Grizzlies to shoot 49 percent.
Indiana made eight 3-pointers in the first half and led 60-51 at the break.
"I'm always disappointed when we don't come out and compete," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "That's why I shook things up a bit to start the second half. Sometimes, it takes putting guys on the bench to see what the other guys are doing out there, how they're getting things done."
Indiana led 93-86 with six minutes to play, but the Grizzlies tied the score at 95 on two free throws by Quinton Ross with 2:23 to play. It was the first time the Grizzlies had been at least even since the opening moments of the game.
Murphy scored on a putback to give Indiana the lead, then Gay was called for an offensive foul. After the teams traded possessions, Daniels made a short jumper with 47 seconds left to make it 99-95.
Mayo missed an off-balance jumper from near the free-throw line with 30 seconds to play, and the Pacers rebounded. After Jack made one of two free throws, Gasol made a layup for the Grizzlies to make it 100-97 with 23 seconds left.
Ford made one of two free throws, but Gasol dunked for Memphis to make it 101-99 with 14 seconds to play.
Jack missed the second of two free throws with 11.6 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a chance to tie. Gay missed a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Ford made two free throws at the other end with 3.5 seconds left to finish the scoring.
Gay thought his shot was going to force overtime.
"It felt good when it left my hand," he said. "I thought it had a great chance to go in. It was probably an inch off. It's frustrating to lose this way. It's tough on me."
Memphis guard Mike Conley, and Indianapolis native, said the Pacers did a good job of maintaining their composure when the Grizzlies tied the score in the fourth quarter.
"The reserve guys did great," he said. "When we came back in, we were one, two plays away. But they made some plays there at the end.
Indiana coach Jim O'Brien is glad the team hasn't given up without Granger and Mike Dunleavy, who is out with a sore right knee.
"This is a great group of guys to coach," he said. "They're a resilient group, and they always believe they can win ... I'm very proud of the way these guys compete."
Half the starters in the game were rookies: Rush and Roy Hibbert for the Pacers and Gasol, Mayo and Darrell Arthur for the Grizzlies. Gay, in his third year, is the most experienced starter for Memphis. ... Conley finished with 13 points and eight assists. ... The Pacers shot 60 percent in the first quarter, while the Grizzlies shot 57 percent. ... Murphy notched his 35th double-double of the season.