THE FACTS: The Memphis Grizzlies continued their winning ways Friday night at The Hive, overcoming a game-but-outclassed New Orleans Hornets 96-89 to improve their NBA best record to 14-3.
QUOTABLE: "We had a great defensive effort tonight. To hold a team like that to 45 points in the second half says a lot about this team.''
-- Hornets Coach Monty Williams after his team outscored the Grizzlies 50-45 in the second half and closed a 51-39 halftime deficit to within one point on several occasions in the fourth quarter.
THE STAT: The numbers don't lie. The Grizzlies front line of Rudy Gay (28-8), Zach Randolph (15-7) and Marc Gasol (13-9) combined for 56 points and 24 rebounds to win the battle of the bigs in impressive fashion. The Hornets' inside trio of Xavier Henry (12-3), Ryan Anderson (15-2) and Robin Lopez (2-3) paled in comparison, combining for 29 points and just eight boards.
TURNING POINT: With the Hornets (5-13) hanging tough, down just 91-86 late in the fourth quarter, Rudy Gay knocked down a 3-ball to give the Grizzlies breathing room late in the fourth quarter. Gay matched his season-high of 28 points but that 3-pointer with 2:10 remaining dashed the Hornets' upset hopes.
QUOTABLE II: "We don't want a moral victory. We want a real victory.''
-- Hornets rookie SG Austin Rivers, who scored a career-high 15 points.
HOT: Grizzlies' reserve F Quincy Pondexter haunted his former team, matching his season high of 16 points with a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor in 13-plus minutes of court time. He made all four attempts from 3-point range. The Hornets traded Pondexter to Memphis on Christmas Eve in 2011 for point guard Greivis Vasquez, who scored four points and handed out eight assists. "It was one of those nights; the shots were falling,'' Pondexter said. "A win is a win, it doesn't matter who it comes against.''
NOT: Hornets starting SF Al-Farouq Aminu had the night off, courtesy of Coach Monty Williams who felt the time had come to shake up the look of his backcourt. Aminu's replacement Xavier Henry acquitted himself well, scoring a season-high 12 points on 4-of-6 from the floor.
GOOD MOVE: The decision by Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins to go small in the second half to match the Hornets' energy and intensity. Pondexter came off the bench to score eight points in the fourth quarter and keep the Grizzlies in front. "We can go with a small lineup, we can go with a big lineup,'' Pondexter said. "We have the ability to go out and win with any lineup and that's the mark of a good team.''
BAD MOVE: Not necessarily bad, just a sign of the times in New Orleans. The Hornets bench outscored the starters 48-41 and tried to overtake the Grizzlies in the waning minutes with an all-rookie backcourt of rookie Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts. Meantime, the orgfanization is awaiting the return of SG Eric Gordon and PF Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft who is scheduled to return next week after missing the past 10 games with a badly sprained ankle.
NOTABLE: With 28 points Friday night, Grizzlies SF Rudy Gay now has scored at least 14 points in a career-high 20 consecutive games. It represents the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA. "
UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Saturday @ Miami, Tuesday vs. Washington, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City. For the Grizzlies, Saturday vs. Atlanta, Wednesday @ Phoenix, Friday at Denver.