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Full Recap: Grizzlies Stumble in Road Trip Opener

The Memphis Grizzlies fall to the New Orleans Pelicans led by a 41-point night from Boogie Cousins

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, this was not the way the Grizzlies wanted to start their four-game road trip.

They came into New Orleans wanting to keep the momentum going for two key road games coming up against the Spurs and Warriors. Instead, the Memphis Grizzlies (40-31) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans (30-41) 95-82.

The game can be pretty much summed up with two words: DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie straight up dominated the entire game start to finish. He ended up with 41 points and 17 rebounds. He hit another gear in the second half and made the Grizzlies defense look silly.

As for the Grizzlies, there isn’t much to take from this game. Their hot streak cooled off in extreme fashion as the team shot 40 percent overall, but only 25 percent from three-point range. The team couldn’t find their offense in the third quarter and that’s when this game flipped on them.

As a whole, this game showed how important it is for the Grizzlies to play complete games all the way through. Their third quarter struggles flared up again. It’s something they’re going to have to fix heading into their toughest two game stretch this season.

This was a tough loss, but there’s no time to stay upset about it. Memphis has played well against the Spurs and Warriors this season so far. Wins on the road will turn this road trip into a successful one.

Game Breakdown

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

To start the game, both teams were finding their rhythm around them. Newly signed rookie Wayne Selden Jr. got the start for injured Tony Allen and was given his chance real quick. The starting five got into the action, all scoring in the first quarter. On the other side, DeMarcus Cousins came out hot with seven points in the opening frame.

At the end of the first, the Grizzlies lead 23-21. Memphis played their style of ball, slowing the game down and holding the Pelicans to under 25. Both teams were also very cold from beyond the arc, with the Grizz going 1-8 from three and the Pels going 2-8.

In the second quarter, the Grizzlies looked to take control of the game. They played great team defense and controlled the two-headed monster of Boogie and Anthony Davis. Boogie still ended up with 16 points in the first half, but as mentioned before, if you can control one to a modest game that’s the key. Davis only had four points in the first half.

For the Grizzlies up to halftime, Andrew Harrison off the bench had a team-high eight points. The team as a whole couldn’t hit a shot. Memphis was ice cold from three, shooting 3-17. Even with their good defense, they cannot expect to control the game if they don’t make shots. Despite their shooting struggles, the Grizzlies lead 41-34 going into the second half.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The third quarter started out as a complete disaster. The Pelicans went on a 21-0 run at the beginning of the quarter. Another flat second half start turned a comfortable lead into the Grizz being down 10. The Boogie and Brow Show got into their rhythm. Cousins kept his great night going, having 14 in the third quarter alone and 41 for the game. He single-handedly ripped the Grizzlies defense apart.

The Grizzlies had no answer for the Pelicans offensive explosion. They shot 3-13 in the third and picked the worst time to go cold. They lost the quarter 32-13. At the end of three, it was 66-56 Pelicans.

Boogie never slowed down throughout the fourth quarter. After outscoring the Grizzlies by himself in the third, he had his way with Marc Gasol on their trips down the court. Memphis did well to hang in there and cut it to a two-possession game, but the defense was never there at the other end.

With Boogie taking the headline, Anthony Davis had another quietly impactful night. He had 19 points and 13 boards despite reportedly feeling ill before the game. With these two playing at that level, this team is hard to beat. The Grizzlies had no offensive comeback and thus fell short 95-82.

Not much to say after the game that wasn’t mentioned above, but here are my final thoughts on this game that dives a little deeper for the rest of the season.

Complete Game Mentality

We have seen the Grizzlies play in games like this before: in control through the first half, flat out of the locker room after halftime, the lead slips away, and Memphis ends up losing. It’s these third quarter struggles that happened multiple times during the previous losing streak. For example, in that disaster in Brooklyn, Memphis lead by double digits before giving up a huge run to let the Nets back into the game.

After giving up a 21-0 third quarter run tonight, the question must be asked whether this team has the right mentality with the lead. Conley, Gasol, and Randolph cannot let this keep happening if they want any hope of a playoff run.

I do believe this problem will resolve itself before the end of the season. The veteran personalities and leadership will step up. Z-Bo said after this game that it was one of his worst performances this season. He took ownership for the loss which hopefully will rally the team together going forward on this road trip.

The Grizzlies’ composure with a lead and the mindset to fight back will be something to watch for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

Other Notes:

  • Vince Carter cooled off, only having 4 points on 2-9 shooting (0-6 from three). He’s played like vintage Vince over these past few games, so hopefully he can find his stroke again.
  • Even with Tony Allen hurt, Fizdale needs to stick with a lineup that is comfortable with one another. I understand he’s tinkering with the lineups trying to find one that works, but it’s getting to be crunch time. He needs to stick with something the team can build around.
  • This game was another loss to a sub-.500 team. The Grizzlies are going to have to prove themselves by beating the teams they should.

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