Grizzlies vs. Pelicans preview - 1/20/14
By Jordan Garretson
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The Memphis Grizzlies have been rejuvenated defensively, leading to their longest winning streak of the season.
They'll try to take advantage of the injury-ravaged New Orleans Pelicans on Monday as they aim for a sixth straight victory.
After recording consecutive wins once in their previous 22 contests, Memphis has won a season-best five in a row, limiting opponents to 90.8 points and 41.6 percent shooting.
Prior to the streak, the Grizzlies were giving up 97.4 points and 46.2 percent from the field.
Memphis' defense played a crucial role down the stretch of a 91-90 home win over Sacramento on Friday, as the Grizzlies (20-19) ended the game on a 10-2 run. The Kings were held to fewer than 100 points for the second time in their last 15 games as Memphis recorded a season-high 13 blocked shots.
Four apiece came from Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, who played his third game in his return from a sprained MCL.
The Grizzlies had 10 blocks in an 82-77 victory at Milwaukee on Wednesday. Friday's victory put them over the .500 mark for the first time since early December.
"We got stops seven of the last eight possessions, and I think I'm counting 10 of the last 13," said coach David Joerger, whose technical foul with 4:01 remaining seemed to spark his team's decisive run. "So, going down the stretch, the intensity was good. We got deflections, got our hands on basketballs, and came up with loose balls."
Mike Conley scored 25 points and has averaged 23.5 over his last six contests while hitting 50.5 percent of his shots.
Courtney Lee has averaged 16.3 points while starting the last four games. He came off the bench in his first two contests with the Grizzlies following his trade from Boston on Jan. 7.
Memphis will be trying to avenge two losses to New Orleans earlier this season, the most recent a 104-98 road defeat Dec. 13.
The Pelicans have gone 4-14 since that game and have dropped their last eight. The skid coincides with Ryan Anderson's absence, as the high-scoring power forward is sidelined indefinitely with a herniated disc.
New Orleans (15-24) is making just 4.8 3-point baskets per game during its losing streak without Anderson, who averages 3.0.
Jrue Holiday - the team leader with 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals a contest - is also out indefinitely with a stress fracture to his right tibia. Tyreke Evans had missed three in a row with a sprained ankle prior to scoring 14 points in Saturday's 97-87 home loss to Golden State.
New Orleans was 13 of 39 from the field in the second half and scored 33 points, its sixth second half of fewer than 45 points in the last eight games.
Anthony Davis tallied 31 points and 17 rebounds, but received little help. Eric Gordon averages 16.3 points but finished with eight and shot 3 of 17.
"We fought tonight and played hard and I'm proud of the guys," said Davis, averaging 22.4 points and 11.1 rebounds during the skid - both above his season averages. "It's adversity. We have to learn how to deal with it."
Gordon scored 25 while going 10 of 12 from the floor in last month's win over Memphis.
Conley has averaged 21.5 points in his last four games against the Pelicans.
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