Pelicans.com postgame: Pelicans 99, Grizzlies 84
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
MEMPHIS – Despite its excellent barbecue and blues music, Memphis hasn’t been a fun place for New Orleans players to visit in recent seasons. One of the NBA’s premier teams under former head coach Lionel Hollins, the Grizzlies are difficult to beat in Tennessee, including going 32-9 at home last season. That’s partly what made Wednesday’s road win particularly sweet for the Pelicans, who dominated much of the game against a team that advanced to the Western Conference finals in May.
New Orleans raced to a 33-18 lead after a quarter and held a double-digit advantage for the vast majority of the final three stanzas, expanding its lead to a staggering 29 points early in the fourth quarter. Memphis put together an extended rally in the fourth quarter to get within nine points, but New Orleans regained command to post a rare double-digit win against a quality Southwest Division host.
“Good win on the road,” said Pelicans shooting guard Eric Gordon, who led a balanced offensive performance with 19 points. “We made shots, and our defense picked it up, that’s why we got a lot of transition baskets. It was good to see us get this win tonight.”
“We came out with a lot of defensive intensity,” agreed Anthony Davis, second on New Orleans with 18 points, to go with nine rebounds. “Guys were sharing the ball pretty well, and we got open shots. When we play like that, it’s tough for us to get beat.”
From the opening tip, New Orleans (2-3) swarmed Memphis (2-3), quieting a FedEx Forum crowd and building a sizeable advantage. By halftime, the Pelicans had opened up a 51-41 lead behind five different players tallying between six and 11 points. The roster-wide production made it difficult for the Grizzlies to focus on any one player. Memphis also had to overcome an unusual in-game development when power forward Zach Randolph exited the building due to the imminent birth of a child that his fiancée is carrying.
The Pelicans capitalized by outscoring the Grizzlies 28-16 in the third quarter, creating a 79-57 spread. It was 86-57 before Memphis put together a rally with primarily backups on the floor.
"It feels really good to get the win," Jason Smith said. "Especially against a playoff team. The Grizzlies are a really good team to get a win over. We played good defense. We didn’t have to take the ball out of the net as much. We had good transition and we had good movement of the ball."
New Orleans picked up its first road win of the season and will be home Friday against the Lakers at 7 p.m. The Pelicans will then try to build on Wednesday's road success with a three-game trip starting Sunday at Phoenix. The trek continues with games at the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah on Tuesday and next Wednesday.