Grizzlies 90 - Pelicans 88
The Grizz dealt with ebbs and flows to the quality of their play throughout the night, and spent most of the game down to the Pellies. Every time they found it in themselves to get within a point or two of tying, BAM. Five points for the Pelicans, and the Grizz were back down seven. It took an impressive scoring run in the last three and a half minutes of the game for them to win it in the final seconds.
The Pelicans kicked off the game by claiming a slight edge over the Grizzlies. Anthony Davis proved difficult to stop offensively, often acting as the fulcrum for the entire Pelicans offense as the Grizzlies defense keyed in on him. He scored 14 of the Pellies' 26 first-quarter points, scoring in a variety of ways including a lovely and-one pull-up jumper over Zach Randolph. That guy is scary.
The rest of the Pellies didn't do much early, however. They shot 39.1% from the field despite Davis going 5-for-7, and mostly just played off of Davis on offense. The Grizzlies were able to get into the paint for easy shots and free throw opportunities themselves, shooting 60.0% from the field. As great as Davis looked, Randolph wasn't allowing himself to be outdone. He had 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting, mixing it up down low with Davis. Z-Bo did some backing down in the post, but there was no backing down in the battle against the Brow. Add in a strong performance from Tayshaun Prince and some other guys, and the Grizzlies were able to come out of the first quarter with a two-point lead.
It was a late burst of offense from the Pelicans in the second quarter that propelled them ahead of the Grizzlies heading into halftime. Davis continued dominating, making some challenged looks and some easy ones. This time around, his teammates joined him in the effort and the team shot 55.0% in the second quarter to go with an 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. The Grizzlies' normally staunch defense didn't look quite right, allowing even the Pellies' bench players, led by Austin Rivers, to make an impact.
The Grizz weren't necessarily bad, getting decent production out of their bench and offense with Z-Bo continuing to do his business in the post. Still, they found themselves with a few more misses, fewer trips to the free throw line and a bunch of offensive rebounds allowed to the Pellies. Come halftime, they were suddenly down nine points.
It looked like the Grizzlies would be able to come back in the third, quickly cutting the lead down to two points in the first four minutes. Things quickly went south, though. The offense suddenly threw up all over itself for what ended up a 28.6% field goal percentage in the third. On the bright side, the Grizzlies did have seven offensive rebounds to clean up after themselves and Mike Conley got to the free throw line a bunch to keep the game within reach. They also held Davis to just two free throw attempts (both made) in 12 third-quarter minutes. Prince and James Johnson put in some good minutes defending Davis. So, not all bad. It was going to take more than their third quarter performance to overcome the deficit, but the Grizzlies had themselves a foothold.
The Grizzlies' bench unit brought the lead down to one point early in the fourth, but like in the third, the Pelicans were able to stretch their lead back out. The Tony Allen-James Johnson-Mike Miller combination played well on both ends, especially shining on defense. They earned Joerger's trust for much of the fourth quarter, with Z-Bo replacing Miller only after the Pelicans built their lead back up to six points. The chaotic pair of Allen and Johnson stayed in for most of the quarter, with Tayshaun Prince never seeing the floor in the fourth and Courtney Lee only getting in for Johnson with 14 seconds left (Miller checked back in for Allen at that point too, with the Grizzlies down two and the shot clock turned off).
With 3:22 left in the game, the Grizzlies were down seven points and things were starting to look bleak. Well, it was then that they dug in and made their final comeback effort. As things turned out, that effort translated into a great performance. The Pelicans were held scoreless from that point on, as stingy and turnover-creating defense coupled with poor decision-making from Austin Rivers allowed the Grizzlies to tie the game with 1:16 remaining. Following an ill-advised corner three from Rivers, an unlucky Gasol miss at the rim (the layup juuuuuust rolled out!) and an ill-advised 26-footer from Anthony Morrow on a night where he had been shooting 2-for-11 before that shot, there were 14 seconds left.
In the 4Q, Tony Allen had 10pts (2-3FGs / 5-6FTs), 4 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, and a bunch of #GNG— Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) March 13, 2014
So, Mike Conley took the ball to the rim out of a pick-and-roll and hit a floater over Anthony Davis with 1.5 seconds remaining. Without a timeout, the Pelicans could only muster up a full-court heave. Z-Bo stuffed that, and the buzzer sounded for a 90-88 Grizzlies win. Nice! Let's give Beno Udrih a fistful of Conley's jersey!
Anthony Davis ended up with just seven points in the second half, a disappointing finish after what looked to be a potentially special night after his 22-point first half. The Grizzlies probably wouldn't have won if he kept up the first-half scoring pace offensively, so I guess I'm okay with missing out on Brow dominance. What he did show is at least another sign of how much more of that's coming in the rest of his NBA career.
MulliStreak lives on, as the Grizzlies have now won four in a row. Next up are the Toronto Raptors, fresh off of a win against the Detroit Pistons, on Friday. MulliStreak has the Grizz winning that one and three more, even if Joe himself is a bit nervous about that one. The Raptors have had a good season over in the Eastern Conference, so that'll be a big game to get the win streak to five.