Hornets.com postgame: Grizzlies 93, Hornets 81

Friday, April 1, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Grizzlies (43-33), Hornets (43-33)

It was over when… Marc Gasol drilled an 18-foot jumper to give Memphis a 90-77 lead with 2:25 remaining, leading to a New Orleans timeout and rare Monty Williams technical foul for arguing. The Grizzlies posted a methodical victory that pulled them into a tie with the Hornets in the overall standings. NOLA still owns the tiebreaking advantage based on a 2-1 series lead, but missed a prime opportunity to make it very difficult for Memphis to pull ahead in the Southwest Division and Western Conference races.

Despite the disappointing defeat, the Hornets’ requirement to qualify for the playoffs over the next few days is extraordinarily simple to understand: if they win Sunday vs. Indiana and Wednesday vs. Houston, they’re in. If they lose either of those games, it gets a bit more complicated. Houston (40-36) cut its deficit behind NOLA to three games Friday, but the Rockets are essentially four games back due to the tiebreaker owned by the Hornets.

Hornets MVP: Carl Landry was a rare offensive bright spot during a game in which the Hornets tallied their fewest first-quarter points (12) of the 2010-11 season and finished with their lowest output (81) since March 7 at Chicago (77). Landry totaled 19 points, but did the bulk of his damage in the first half by depositing 16 points. After going 8-for-13 from the field, the trade-deadline pickup continued his streak of scoring at least 19 points in each of his four starts since David West was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Overall it was a mediocre one for the bench (10-for-24 field-goal shooting), without any individual standing out much in the defeat. Give the nod to Quincy Pondexter, who played with energy during his 13-minute stint. The rookie from Washington scored six points and grabbed an offensive rebound.

The buzz on… an offensive power outage in a big game. The Hornets’ 81-point production was their fourth-lowest total of the entire 2010-11 season. Give credit to Memphis for an intense defensive performance, but New Orleans also had too many possessions in which it did not attack until there were a handful of seconds left on the shot clock. The Hornets shot just 38.9 percent from the field in the first half, resulting in a double-digit deficit they never threatened with much force.

“Tough loss, especially coming off an emotional win like (Portland),” Chris Paul assessed. “Luckily we get to see these guys again. We had the opportunity to take the season series and go up 3-0, but they got us.

“It was the first quarter,” Paul added of when Memphis took control. “We got down 13 points, something like that and could never get it back. We made a run here or there, but every time we got down to seven, they pushed it to 15. They just played a great game tonight.”

Blog question of the night: Through 76 games, the Hornets and Grizzlies are in a dead heat. Keep in mind, New Orleans will still capture the tiebreaking edge over Memphis unless each of these three outcomes occur: 1) the Grizzlies beat the Hornets on April 10; 2) the Hornets lose to the Rockets on April 6; and 3) the Hornets lose at the Mavericks on April 13. Can Memphis overtake NOLA in the standings? The Grizzlies’ remaining slate is vs. Minnesota, vs. Clippers, vs. Sacramento, vs. New Orleans, at Portland, at Clippers. The Hornets’ final six games are vs. Indiana, vs. Houston, vs. Phoenix, at Memphis, vs. Utah, at Dallas.