The Memphis Grizzlies headed in to New Orleans looking to take their minds off the distractions of the past week as they took on a Pelicans team just as desperate as them to hang in the postseason picture out west. NOLA played like it, especially in the 2nd half. The Grizzlies did not, and they lost because of it.
Anthony Davis started the game hot for the Pelicans, scoring nineteen (yes, nineteen) points in the first frame. Memphis was able to take advantage of New Orleans turnovers to keep pace in the first quarter, and that trend continued through the second quarter as the Grizzlies took the extra scoring chances and repeatedly cashed in on the other end. Elfird Payton and Julius Randle served as worthy co-stars alongside Davis, with each of them scoring nine points and Davis scoring 23 in the first half. JaMychal Green led Memphis with 10 first half points, while Jaren Jackson Jr. was a perfect 4 for 4 from the floor and scoring 8 points.
The Grizzlies have struggled in third quarters of late, and that trend continued in this contest. Davis continued to dominate, and the Pelicans as a whole ate Memphis alive in the lane. Jaren Jackson Jr.’s foul troubles didn’t help matters here, as Marc Gasol and JaMychal Green struggles to keep New Orleans honest on drives. The Pelicans shot over 56% from the floor through three quarters as a team, outscoring the Grizzlies 33-22 in the frame which resulted in an 86-73 lead for New Orleans heading to the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter began with traded baskets between both teams, and the Grizzlies continuing to struggle keeping ball handlers in front of them defensively. The Pelicans attempted a lot more free throws than Memphis, and while the Grizzlies had some legitimate gripes with a call or two the simple fact is they couldn’t move well enough laterally and in rotations to protect the lane without fouling. As the final frame went on the game got more and more out of hand, with the Pelicans lead ballooning to as many as 23 before settling at the final score of 114-95
Some quick points on another disaster-
- Any game where Mike Conley and JaMychal Green are your leading scorers will probably result in a loss. Marc Gasol’s game has completely disintegrated since his hot start to the season - it’s disappointing and concerning. He is a full step slow, and cannot move laterally well at all. If he isn’t healthy, he needs to sit out and get right. If he is healthy...hope he opts out this summer.
- Kyle Anderson showed real flashes as a passer and initiator of offense in this game, and for some reason J.B. Bickerstaff refuses to stick with it. It allows for Mike Conley to be a pure scorer off screens and off the ball, and it puts the ball in Anderson’s hands, where he is clearly most comfortable. Anderson is the 4th best player on the Grizzlies - he must be allowed to thrive in situations where he is most able to play to his strengths.
- Jevon Carter played well in the first half as a facilitator, but in the second half he was a bit over his head and tried to do too much offensively (0-5 shooting...woof). Playing within himself will be key as he tries to keep the backup point guard job moving forward.
- I mean, seriously, Joakim Noah had more points (8) than Marc Gasol (7). Memphis isn’t winning a basketball game when that is the case.
The Grizzlies, whose losing streak now stands at six games, take on the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night in Memphis at FedExForum.