This afternoon, the Grizzlies play the New Orleans Hornets — so hard not to make some sort of “Pelicans” reference there — for the first time since December 7th, a game in New Orleans which the Grizzlies won 96–87.
That Hornets team was not the same as this Hornets team, though. In the intervening weeks, Greivis Vasquez has been on a tear, Anthony Davis has started to get his NBA sea legs under him a little bit, and Eric Gordon has returned from injury after missing a large portion of the early season.
It’ll be interesting to see how the new-look Grizzlies do against this team: the bench play has been much faster-paced since Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington were traded away for Jon Leuer. Tony Wroten and Jerryd Bayless both play with a great deal of confidence, and when they’re attacking the rim and creating scoring opportunities for the guys around them, the Grizzlies are hard to stop.
Meanwhile, Marc Gasol seems to have regained a bit of his aggression on offense. Look for that trend to continue against the Hornets as he faces off against Robin Lopez, brother of Brook Lopez, who managed 18 points and 4 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets got demolished 101–77 Friday night. It’ll be interesting to see how well the Hornets’ interior defense holds up against the Marc Gasol/Zach Randolph tandem that’s been terrorizing opposing frontcourts all year long. The Rudy Gay and Al-Farouq Aminu should be interesting to watch, as well, as Aminu continues to develop.
Overall, the Grizzlies should win this one, but it won’t be easy. Vasquez will, as ever, be playing to embarrass the Grizzlies, and when he’s on this season, he’s on. The Hornets aren’t at the top tier of the league yet, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a tough out. The Grizzlies will have to continue the momentum — and the excellent ball movement — of their last two wins into this afternoon’s game if they want to come out on top.
Yep, remember when he won the Grizzlies a playoff game? ↩