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Zach is Back but Grizz Can't Pick up Slack, Fall to Pelicans

Even with Zach Randolph returning to the Grizzlies lineup, Memphis couldn't stop New Orleans as they fell 106-95 to the Pelicans Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Randolph returned to the Grizzlies starting lineup Friday night, but Memphis did not return to their winning ways, as they had no answer for the offense of the New Orleans Pelicans. Led by Jrue Holiday with 23 points, the Pelicans had four players score 20 points or more.

With the Grizzlies' All-Star power forward returning after missing the last nine games, you would expect Memphis to come out with energy and hustle, ready to assert their dominance. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. New Orleans scored the first 9 points of the game in route to a 31-19 first quarter lead. The Pelicans connected on three 3-point attempts, and that hot shooting early on would merely serve as an opening act for the rest of the evening.

Memphis would show some fight to start the second quarter, opening up on a 13-2 run. After getting torched for 31 in the first, the Grizzlies limited the Pelicans to a pair of free throws in the first 5:19 of the second quarter, and they cut the New Orleans lead to one at 33-32. Unfortunately, their next three offensive possessions would result in misses on (mostly) poor shot selections, and the Pelicans responded on the other end, immediately pushing their lead back to eight.  Tyreke Evans scored 9 of his 21 in the quarter to help the Pelicans keep the Grizzlies at bay, and New Orleans would take a 52-39 lead into the half.

The second half simply brought more of the same, and the Grizzlies couldn't get within six. Anthony Davis scored 10 points in the third quarter, and Ryan Anderson added 8 points, including two 3-pointers. Anderson, who was 0/10 in the first meeting with the Grizzlies this season, scored 20 points and was 4/8 from beyond the arc on the night. Memphis was unable to get within nine in the final quarter, and would eventually lose 106-95.

Game Notes from the Legend-wait for it-Diary

  1. This is the fourth time this season Memphis has allowed an opponent to open the game on a 7-0 run or better.
  2. Tayshaun Prince was almost traded before the game, and Quincy was held out because he is also reportedly on the move, yet Jordan Adams was still inactive.
  3. Vince Carter was 0/4 from the 3-point line tonight, and his season average is creeping closer and closer to below 30%.
  4. Another night, another team raining down 3s on the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies need to change their defensive schemes to incorporate defending the 3-point line, because too many teams are exploiting them in that area, and it's tough to win games when teams are consistently hitting 50% of their 3-point attempts.
  5. Of the four players involved in the trade rumors (Prince, Salmons, Green, Pondexter), Tayshaun was the only one to see the floor tonight. If this was indeed his last game as a Grizzly, we can say this for him: He made his final two shots, both 3s. He was the consummate professional while he was here, and though his body failed him at times, he remained a class act. Say what you want about Tayshaun the basketball player, but nothing negative can be said about Tayshaun the man.
  6. Mike Conley with 19 points on 18 shots (aka The Rudy Gay Special). Mike looked just a little off tonight, and shots that normally fall for him were rimming out or falling short. He finished with 19-7-5 tonight, and was far from the reason Memphis lost this game.
  7. Kosta Koufos was the only Grizzly with a positive +/- tonight. He needs to play more.

The loss moves Memphis to 25-11 on the year. You can make a lot of excuses for tonight: distractions from trade talk, poor matchup with the Pelicans, Tyreke Evans hates Memphis and lives to destroy them; and in reality, it's probably a little bit of all of it. Even still, it's simply one loss, and the Grizzlies will have a chance to right the ship Sunday afternoon at the Forum. Whether or not they take the floor with shiny new players remains to be seen. Regardless of who takes the court, Memphis will have to get back to playing stingy, hard-nosed defense if it hopes to get back on track against a very potent Phoenix offense.