Postgame wrap: Grizzlies 107, Pelicans 103

Grizzlies (15-9), Pelicans (13-14)
by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

In NBA.com’s weekly power rankings column, New Orleans was chosen as the team to watch for Week 8, based on an intriguing three-game homestand against fellow Western Conference playoff contenders. The Pelicans routed Dallas in the middle game of the set, but dropped heartbreakers to open and close the five-day span in the Smoothie King Center.

Friday’s game vs. Memphis was nip-and-tuck throughout, with neither side ever leading by double digits. The Grizzlies eventually took the upper hand in the final minutes, clamping down on defense and forcing the Pelicans into a series of difficult attempts from the field. After a high-scoring opening three quarters – especially by slow-paced Grizzlies standards – the fourth period was a slow grind, won 22-19 by Memphis. The Grizzlies closed the game on a 15-3 run over the final five-plus minutes, after trailing by eight points.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

E’Twaun Moore misfired on a potential game-tying three-pointer from the left corner, a shot that was rebounded by Memphis. Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson went to the other end and sank one free throw for a two-possession margin, with only five seconds remaining.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

When Solomon Hill was moved into the New Orleans starting lineup this week, he wasn’t necessarily expected to provide a big offensive boost to the first string – especially since one wasn’t even needed. Known more for his defense, Hill played his best offensive game Friday in roughly 20 months, draining four three-pointers and totaling 14 points. He was 5/8 from the field and 4/6 from the arc.

FOCUS ON: LATE-GAME EXECUTION

Basketball analysts and NBA number-crunchers like to say that a team’s record in close games tends to even out over time – that much of it is based on luck in coin flip-type contests – but New Orleans’ struggles in the final minutes of fourth quarters have contributed greatly to a 2-6 record in games decided by five points or less. With the Western Conference standings packed as tightly as they are, even slightly better execution by the Pelicans in crunch time probably would’ve lifted them several spots higher in the pecking order. Instead, New Orleans is 0-5 since Thanksgiving Eve in games that could’ve gone either way, including road losses to Philadelphia, New York and Miami, along with home defeats this week to the Clippers and Memphis.

“You’ve got to finish games,” Alvin Gentry said after the loss to the Grizzlies. “That’s just the bottom line. It’s not really complicated. You get to the point where you’re eight (points) up at home with 5:12 to go. You’ve got to finish the game. We didn’t do that.”

New Orleans missed its last nine attempts from the field, including several that were up against the shot clock and not high-percentage looks. The Pelicans had several possessions in which some of the 24 seconds were eaten up without them getting into a play. “You have to be able to execute and score down the stretch,” Gentry said.

BY THE NUMBERS

7/29: New Orleans three-point shooting. Hill was excellent at 4/6, but the rest of the Pelicans combined to go just 3/23. It was a tough night for Nikola Mirotic (0/4) in his return to the court after a two-game absence due to illness. Moore shot 0/3. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were a solid 8/19.

20/24: Pelicans foul shooting, but that number was a bit misleading, because three of the four misses came when the score was tight in the fourth quarter.

3: Pelicans to tally 20-plus points, led by Julius Randle’s 26 points (to go with 13 rebounds). Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday notched 25 and 20 points, respectively.

Pelicans-Grizzlies Postgame: Alvin Gentry 12-7-18

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry recaps tonight's home game vs the Memphis Grizzlies

Game 27: Pelicans vs. Grizzlies 12-7-18

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Pelicans-Grizzlies Postgame: Alvin Gentry 12-7-18

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry recaps tonight's home game vs the Memphis Grizzlies
Dec 7, 2018  |  04:19

Pelicans-Grizzlies Postgame: Jrue Holiday 12-7-18

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday recaps tonight's home game vs the Memphis Grizzlies
Dec 7, 2018  |  03:05

Pelicans-Grizzlies Postgame: Solomon Hill 12-7-18

Pelicans forward Solomon Hill recaps tonight's road match-up vs the Memphis Grizzlies
Dec 7, 2018  |  01:29

New Orleans Pelicans Highlights vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The New Orleans Pelicans starting five put up a strong performance but ultimately fell to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, Dec. 7.
Dec 7, 2018  |  02:53

Frazier at the buzzer

Tim Frazier knocks it down at the buzzer to end the third
Dec 7, 2018  |  00:46

Solomon Hill drills a three to tie it up

Solomon Hill hits his third three pointer of the night to tie it up for the Pelicans.
Dec 7, 2018  |  00:11

Pelicans live above the rim in the first half

The Pelicans put up seven dunks in the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, Dec. 7.
Dec 7, 2018  |  01:06

Jrue Holiday takes it strong to the cup

Jrue Holiday slices through defenders and finishes strong
Dec 7, 2018  |  00:26

Julius Randle goes in with authority

Julius Randle drives in and bullies his way past the Memphis defense.
Dec 7, 2018  |  00:19

Anthony Davis flushes the assist from Julius Randle

The Pelicans bigs find each other as AD slams the lob from Anthony Davis.
Dec 7, 2018  |  00:29