Depending on your stance towards the Graceful Tank of the Grizzlies this season, this game was either really well done or absolutely terrible. On the second night of a back-to-back and nursing a three game win streak, the Grizzlies looked bad, but good some times. Keep in mind, there were six rotation players sitting out for Memphis, so that meant that this game was going to look sloppy from the tip. To put that in perspective, Ben McLemore started for Andrew Harrison and even scored six of the Grizzlies first eight points.
The most notable difference to start this game was at the free throw line, the Pelicans shot 17-19 in the first quarter alone, a franchise record for opponent free throw attempts in a first quarter (Memphis was 2-2 in the same time frame). Though the Pels have two All-Stars starting in the front court that specialize in getting to the free throw line, the Grizzlies simply played defense with their hands instead of feet. It wasn’t much better on the offensive end, Wayne Selden Jr. tapped into his Summer League form and led the team in scoring through one quarter, but he was the main and only highlight.
Through the second quarter, the lead for New Orleans was built to 19 by the 6:00 mark. With a lack of guard play, mismatches were created at every position on defense. For the second game in a row, Tyreke Evans and Marc Gasol struggled on both ends, forcing others to create their own shots. That does not make for a good game plan on this Memphis team.
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were having their way in the post with the benefit of way too many whistles and effectively wiping away any sort of flow to this game. To end the quarter, the Grizz finally put a little run together, where Wayne Selden continued his hot shooting (very encouraging sign) and JaMychal Green got going in his scrappy style. The score at half: 59-44, Selden led the way for Memphis with 18 points on 7-11 shooting. Anthony Davis had 19 on 6-11 shooting at half.
Its worth noting that the foul discrepancy was obvious, Memphis was 4-4 from the free throw line, NOLA was 18-22. Team fouls were 16-6 in favor of NOLA as well. It was not overly bad officiating, but a better effort from the Pels to take the ball to the rim while the Grizzlies settled for jumpers (just 14 points in the paint at the half).
The third quarter was MUCH better. Memphis posted a 16-2 run to start the second half, pulling as close as one point at the 8:15 mark. After a short celebration, the Grizzlies snapped back to reality within a minute and a half, by the 6:36 mark they were back down 11 points. But with a strong commitment to keeping the ball away from Anthony Davis and a “shoot your shot” strategy on offense, Memphis competed on both ends.
Davis did not attempt a shot in the third quarter, while Wayne Selden upped his career night to 26 points through three (4-5 from three point land). The Grizzlies ended the quarter on a strong run as well, finishing the quarter 83-81, scoring 37 points in that 12 minutes.
Also notable, JaMychal Green tweaked his right ankle early in the third quarter, it was listed as an ankle sprain.
The fourth quarter fell apart late when the Grizzlies stopped moving the ball on offense and couldn’t maintain their hot shooting from three. NOLA didn’t change much of anything throughout the game, the long ball just kept the Grizzlies in the second half.
Ben McLemore who has gotten significantly more playing time in the last two games, scored in double figures for the second straight game, finishing the game with 10 points on 5-9 shooting (0-4 from three). Depsite having six Memphis players in double figures, the offense remained stagnant through the middle part of the fourth, a familiar sight this season. Jrue Holiday played up to his salary in the fourth as well, pulling the weight that was not carried as well by the two New Orleans All-Stars.
Wayne Selden Jr. almost single handedly kept the Grizzlies in it through this game, having a career night by the third quarter and finishing the game with 31 points on an efficient 11-16 shooting (5-7 from three). This is a huge step in the right direction for the young guard who has battled injuries all season. Also, Tyreke Evans has simmered as of late, shooting just 23% in the last two games; his scoring has been missed significantly.
Give 'em 31 on the night! pic.twitter.com/TuWBeYBY1d— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) January 21, 2018
Memphis actually won the rebounding battle, which was unlikely being out-manned versus the Pelicans of all teams. The most obvious discrepancy remained the free throws, with Memphis ending the game -14 compared to NOLA.
Final score: 111-104
Mephis will host the Philadelphis 76ers on Monday night.