Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Grizzlies at Pelicans (12/7/18)
A look at three key numbers related to Friday’s game at the Smoothie King Center between Memphis and New Orleans (7 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, WRNO 99.5 FM):
3, 30: Respective rankings in pace among the 30 NBA teams for New Orleans and Memphis. While the Pelicans have embraced the league’s heightened emphasis on pushing the tempo and playing fast, the Grizzlies have done the opposite, as the slowest club in the sport. New Orleans is averaging 104.54 possessions per 48 minutes, a significant increase from the Grizzlies at 96.64 (that translates to Pelicans games having roughly 8 percent more possessions than those of their Southwest Division counterparts). Memphis’ traditional “Grit and Grind” style of play has been beneficial in the win column, with the Grizzlies now 14-9 after going just 22-60 last season. It’s helped greatly that point guard Mike Conley has been at the controls of the offense, because Memphis struggled mightily without him in ’17-18, after a solid start to that campaign.
3: Pelicans reserves who reached double digits in scoring during Wednesday’s 132-106 win over the Mavericks, a group that included E’Twaun Moore (17 points), Darius Miller (12) and Cheick Diallo (10). Alvin Gentry decided to make a change to his starting lineup vs. Dallas, shifting Solomon Hill to a starting role and moving Moore to the bench, an alteration that paid off handsomely in its first usage. New Orleans has received inconsistent scoring punch from its second unit other than Julius Randle, but Moore may be able to solve some of those issues. In addition, Gentry noted after Wednesday’s win that he may keep Randle in the starting five – he’s been outstanding filling in for Nikola Mirotic (illness) this week, averaging 32.0 points – which would mean the Pelicans also could bring Mirotic off the bench. With Hill focusing on the defensive end, these changes could potentially better balance the needs of both units.
25: Anthony Davis’ rank in the NBA in assists per game (5.0), a dramatic uptick from previous seasons. The five-time All-Star is currently tied with point guards Darren Collison of Indiana and Dennis Schroder of Oklahoma City, as well as Detroit forward Blake Griffin, a key playmaker for the Pistons. Davis has more than doubled his assist average from any of his previous six pro seasons, with his previous best being 2.3 apg in ’17-18. The Pelicans are coming off a tremendous 36-assist outing vs. Dallas two days ago, which tied their highest number of dimes in a game this season, matching the 36 they handed out Oct. 17 at Houston. New Orleans is 9-2 when it registers 28 or more assists, but 4-11 when it finishes with 27 or fewer.