Coming into tonight’s game, the Grizzlies were riding on a solid win against the Brooklyn Nets, but Memphis wanted nothing more than to go into the All-Star break with a win against a division opponent in the New Orleans Pelicans. However, with the All-Star break within sight, this looked to be a trap game for Memphis. After all, the Pelicans record-wise aren’t a good team, and the Grizzlies have won both matchups against them already this season.
In the first quarter, the Memphis Grizzlies came out rolling, opening up with a 12-3 lead. Memphis’ 9-point lead quickly turned into a deficit, however, as the Pelicans came roaring back while Memphis’ offense stagated. At the end of the first, New Orleans led 28-22.
The second quarter was all New Orleans, and Solomon Hill had 14 points at halftime on his way to 23 on the night. For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley had 9, and Chandler Parsons had 7. What really hurt Memphis in the first half was points in the paint. The Pelicans were extremely dominant in this category with 30 points to Memphis’ 18 at the end of the first half. In general, the Grizzlies’ defense was abysmal in the first half as the Pelicans were shooting 55% going into the third and had 13 fastbreak points to Memphis’ 2.
In the third quarter, things continued their downhill trend for Memphis. They found themselves down 17 (66-49) midway through the quarter, and the Pelicans were dominating the boards, although typically they’re not a good rebounding team. Memphis’ offense was definitely deflated, but it was the defense that was more concerning. At the end of the third, the Grizzlies trailed 77-61. At this point, Memphis was shooting 36% and the Pelicans were shooting 53%.
There was still one more quarter to play, however. At the beginning of the fourth, the Grizzlies started to storm back as they cranked up the intensity on both ends of the court (where had this been the whole game?). Zach Randolph really helped fuel the movement, and had 16 points and 8 rebounds on the night. With just over 4 minutes left, the Grizzlies cut the deficit to 3, and a Randolph bucket cut it to 1. After the Pelicans extended their lead yet again, Vince Carter came up clutch with a three pointer with less than a minute remaining to cut the deficit back down to 1. However, the Pelicans quickly responded with a bucket themselves.
With less than 40 seconds remaining, the Grizzlies were down three. Vince Carter missed a three and Zach Randolph was unable to convert the rebound into a bucket. The Pelicans then missed two free throws, and the Grizzlies still had a chance with less than 17 seconds left. But they were unable to come up with the three, and the Pelicans pulled out the win, 95-91.
For the Pelicans, Jrue Holiday showed up big with 19 points, and Alexis Ajinca had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Davis had 18 points. Undoubtedly, it was a team effort from New Orleans that survived Memphis’ near comeback in the fourth. For Memphis, Mike Conley ended up with 17 points, and Marc Gasol had 15.
The Grizzlies didn’t go into the All-Star break on a great note, but they’re still going into it with a solid record of 34-24.