The action started slowly for Memphis, as a new look Grizzlies starting lineup featuring Justin Holiday, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ivan Rabb, Avery Bradley and Mike Conley had trouble coalescing on the offensive and defensive end, allowing multiple rim runs and drives while leaving Pelicans shooters open from the outside. The group started 1-6 from the field and turned the ball over multiple times on failed screen and rolls and dribble handoffs, resulting in a 10-2 New Orleans lead early in the first quarter.
Back to back Julius Randle drives broke down the Memphis defense, as the rugged forward found frontcourt mate Cheick Diallo for two easy baskets, extending the New Orleans lead to 24-11 and forcing a Memphis timeout with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter.
The Memphis bench would make their presence known once New Orleans forward Anthony Davis went to the bench. Center Joakim Noah immediately scored on a screen and roll with guard Justin Holliday, sparking an 8-2 run alongside newly acquired swingman C.J. Miles. The Grizzlies would close the gap to 28-20 at the end of the first quarter.
Noah continued to impose his will in the second quarter, by remaining active on the glass and scoring efficiently on passes from multiple teammates, including Ivan Rabb, who also dominated down low with Davis on the bench.
A Delon Wright floater would cap a 17-2 Memphis run, giving the Grizzlies their first lead of the game at 29-28 with 9:45 remaining in the second quarter.
The two teams would increase their physicality and intensity, trading baskets for the remainder of the first half, which concluded with a Julius Randle buzzer beater which gave New Orleans a 44-41 halftime advantage.
The Grizzlies continued to put the pressure on the Pelicans at the start of the second half. Avery Bradley – who was acquired Thursday from the Clippers for JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple – pilfered Jrue Holiday and took it all the way for a layup, sparking a 10-2 run, giving Memphis a 51-46 advantage with 10:10 remaining in the third quarter.
The two teams traded baskets amid sloppy play, until Anthony Davis went back to the bench. Once again, the Grizzlies took advantage and increased their pace. Noah scored a basket in transition off Mike Conley’s third assist of the game, giving Memphis a 62-60 lead. That score would increase to 70-60 after a C.J. Miles jumper assisted by guard Delon Wright.
The Grizzlies shot more than 60 percent from the field in the third quarter.
Anthony Davis returned and cut the Memphis lead to 74-69 early in the fourth quarter, but Memphis would put the game away shortly after. Jaren Jackson Jr. would seal the win with seven straight points after a four-point play and a three pointer, pushing the lead to 94-85 with 2:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Joakim Noah led the way with 19 points and 14 rebounds, making him the third player in Grizzlies history with that many points and rebounds in a single game (Zach Randolph and Mike Miller). Ivan Rabb chipped in with 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists (eight points and eight rebounds in the first half). Conley struggled with his shot against All-NBA defender Jrue Holiday, but finished with 11 points and nine assists. C.J. Miles contributed 13 points on 6-9 shooting in his Memphis debut.
The Grizzlies next game will be against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night at FedEx Forum, their last contest before the NBA All-Star break.