Hornets and Grizzlies Seek to End Recent Struggles
Posted Dec 22 2006 6:27PM
The New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies are giving some teams a scare, but most of the time that's all it's turned out to be.
The bottom two teams in the Southwest Division look for solid play the entire 48 minutes when they meet for the first time this season on Friday at the Ford Center.
New Orleans (10-14) is trying to avoid matching its season-high five-game skid after losing the last two by a combined five points. The Hornets trailed by nine in the fourth quarter Wednesday before holding Orlando to two points over the final five minutes, but couldn't come all the way back in losing 86-83 to the Magic.
``It's been like that lately. We play hard, but we've got to close out games,'' said center Tyson Chandler, who had 11 rebounds. ``We've got to get out of our heads that other guys are out.''
Those guys are three of the five Hornets scoring in double figures this season.
Peja Stojakovic, who has already missed 11 games, underwent lower back surgery Sunday and is expected to be out for a while. David West has played just seven games this season and had surgery for a strained right forearm Wednesday.
Bobby Jackson will likely miss a chance to face his former team as the Hornets' point guard has been out nine games with a cracked rib. Jackson averaged 11.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the Grizzlies last season.
Leading scorer Chris Paul had 19 points and 10 assists Wednesday, but the absence of those key players has had an obvious effect as New Orleans has dropped 11 of 13 after beginning the season with an 8-3 mark.
Memphis (6-20) owns the Western Conference's worst record and has lost seven of its last eight, including a 105-98 defeat at San Antonio on Wednesday. The Grizzlies erased a 19-point third-quarter deficit and took the lead with less than six minutes remaining, but couldn't hold on.
``We are a team that's going to keep fighting and scrapping. We were a little disappointed in the first half with our effort,'' said Grizzlies forward Mike Miller, who scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half. ``We played a lot harder in the second half. We were able to get out, run a little bit, get a few easy buckets and that helps against a defense like that.''
Pau Gasol scored 16 points in his fourth game back after being sidelined for Memphis' first 22 games of the season with a broken left foot. The Grizzlies are 2-13 on the road, but are facing a New Orleans squad that has lost five of its last six home games after winning four straight to open the season.
Memphis won the first meeting between these teams last season before New Orleans took the final three matchups.
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